Opening a conversation

Don Rogers

“Consolidation” might be the buzz word for the next era of Eagle County, at least where the political entities are concerned.

Surely there are cost savings in trimming the overlapping administrations. And less turf battling might result in decisions better focused on the needs of the citizens. Or not.

School districts coalesced long ago and are better off for their evolution. The consolidation of the patchwork of mid-valley fire protection districts seems to be a good move, though it was a near no-brainer because the department based in Avon already served the districts on contract. Since then, Minturn has come aboard, facing the inevitable extinction of its own town department.

Of late, the Eagle County Ambulance District and Eagle River Fire District have opened a discussion about how they might better share resources or even merge in some fashion. You’ll find a great deal of passion among advocates and critics of bringing the entities together, as well as major bureaucratic obstacles.

County and the other local government leaders are bantering about consolidating recreation districts, as well. The coming soccer fields, and who will run them, at the Berry Creek 5th land have nudged the conversation along.

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A proposal for a sweeping community-recreation center has fanned a fire that at least touches on the consolidation question, though the subject on the surface is about where the county government provides funding for recreational services.

Gypsum Town Council members, already unhappy with the county for not being terribly generous with help for their community’s facilities, are especially irked to see that shirker, unincorporated Edwards, lined up with pearls.

The athletic fields and proposal for the center, ironically enough, lie outside any recreation district’s current boundaries. Perhaps the county will play catalyst in bringing the Vail and Western Eagle rec districts closer administratively.

The point is that the concept in general has become a conversation piece among community leaders in a variety of ways. Perhaps the wildest notion is expanding Vail’s boundaries to near Wolcott. Wouldn’t that be interesting? At least it’s an intriguing counter to frustrated Vailites who think their town is sending more to the county than they are receiving in return and muse about a city and county of Vail tucked up above Dowd Junction.

Much of this buzz is likely to end in some iteration of “can’t get there from here.” And that might be fine.

Still, bigger counties than this one – in geography and population – have managed to group the specks into more efficient wholes.

The discussion is worth having.


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