Opponents of development speak ‘neighbor to neighbor’ | VailDaily.com

Opponents of development speak ‘neighbor to neighbor’

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado – In the back room of The Dusty Boot restaurant, where opponents of Eagle River Station were hosting a meeting Wednesday night, a woman in the crowd piped up.

“What do you think the odds are of defeating this?” Eagle Ranch, Colorado, resident Gigi Barry asked.

She was referring to the group’s chances of quashing Eagle River Station in a Jan. 5 citizens’ referendum.

That’s a question the opposition group – which goes by the slogan “Smart Growth – Not Urban Sprawl – Vote No on Eagle River Station” – has been weighing.

David Flaherty, a consultant for the campaign, said the group’s biggest challenge is the complexity of its message. The arguments against Eagle River Station, a proposed retail-residential complex including a Target store, are hard to sum up in a few bullet points, he said. For instance, the group delves into the intricacies of the developer’s sales tax revenue projections to make points.

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But Flaherty believes the campaign can overcome that hurdle.

“We’re confident that every voter we can educate, the more success we will have because we believe the details about Eagle River Station and the deal about RED development will sink itself,” he said.

The group plans a series of community meetings in coming weeks. It also hopes to put together a float for the Dec. 2 Christmas parade in town, or at least walk in the parade, Flaherty said. Perhaps some of the most important campaigning will be on foot.

“Neighbor to neighbor is the most convincing way for us to win this,” Flaherty said.

About 45 people gathered for the group’s first meeting, which featured a PowerPoint presentation by Eagle town Trustee Scot Hunn.

He questioned whether the project is feasible in the current economy and argued that a majority of the infrastructure improvements the developer promises are only necessary to serve Eagle River Station. He also contends that the developers’ sales tax revenue projections are based on overly optimistic assumptions.

Opponents aren’t the only ones campaigning. The developers have been making their case at citizens’ gatherings in various Eagle homes and businesses. Trinity RED Eagle Development proposes 552,000 square feet of commercial space, a hotel and 581 residential units on 88 acres at the eastern end of Eagle, south of Interstate 70.

Both camps are trying to recruit undecided voters.

Eagle resident Pam Barker said she was one of them before she went to Wednesday night’s meeting.

“I got sold tonight,” she said. “I was kind of on the fence before.”

Barker said the shopping center’s convenience had appealed to her, but she worried it would bring too much growth to town. In the end, her concerns won out.

“In this economy, how could this be viable?” she said. “It worries me that they will only get partially into the project or perhaps not start at all when they really run the numbers on this.”

Eagle has about 3,500 potential voters, Flaherty said. Some people wonder how many of them will actually cast their votes.

“I think the biggest challenge is going to come from voter turnout,” said Rosie Shearwood, who is ineligible to vote because she lives just outside town limits.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or


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