Park plans surprise Eagle, truckers |

Park plans surprise Eagle, truckers

Kathy Heicher
Eagle Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” Eagle County’s plan for re-developing the trucker’s parking lot at the Eagle County Fairgrounds into a park has caught trucker and the town of Eagle by surprise.

In fact, there’s several surprises involved. The county only recently learned that it owns the parking lot property. For years, the county assumed the lot was owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation. County Facilities Manager Tom Johnson said that clarification jump-started plans to spruce up the area.

“We’d like to eliminate the entrance by the recycling bins. The whole parking lot becomes a nice green park. I think the community would really like it,” says Tom Johnson, facilities manager for the county.

However, town officials say they only learned of the plan when the county recently posted a sign announcing the parking lot would closed May 1. Eagle Mayor Ed Woodland recently sent a letter to the county, attaching a 1991 intergovernmental agreement between the two governments that allows the fairgrounds land to be used for rest area parking.

“I believe the county forgot about the agreement … we would expect them to honor the agreement, given the fact that it is still in effect,” said Woodland.

Johnson said the county has been working with the Department of Transportation to convert the area to a pedestrian-friendly park. Tentative proposals call for grass and walking trails and possibly demonstration gardens.

“We talked to CDOT, and probably thought we talked to the town,” says Johnson.

Woodland’s letter points out that county leaders last year promised to coordinate with the town on fairgrounds planning effort. The letter also points out that the Department of Transportation required the parking area before agreeing to post signs on Interstate 70 directing drivers to the Information Center.

Eagle Chamber of Commerce Director Tim Cochrane, who runs the info center, says he’s hearing from truckers who are upset about the potential loss of the parking. Truckers are able to walk to local restaurants and restrooms from the lot.

“When the highway closes, they know they can park in Eagle somewhat close to services,” Cochrane said.

Woodland says the town is concerned about the trucker parking and the relocation of recycling bins. When Vail Pass was closed for 10 hours by a March 31 snow storm, 30 tractor-trailers were parked at the Fairgrounds lot; and another 15-20 trucks parked randomly in town.

There is an effort under way to update a management plan for dealing with I-70 closures.

“We really need the statewide emergency management plan in place before we close the lot to truckers,” Woodland said.

Johnson says there’s a possibility that truck parking could be moved further down to the parking lot for the county’s fairgrounds events center.

As for the recycling bins, he says there are some options for moving the site. One possibility is the Eagle Public Works shop on Chambers Avenue; another one would be the old Eagle County Road and Bridge site in west Eagle. The county hopes to move the bins by June 1.

Woodland counters that the often-overflowing recycling bins are well-used.

“Right now the best location is right where it is, until we get some sort of curbside recycling plan or a more efficient centralized operation,” Woodland said.

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