Planners give green light to playing fields at Berry Creek |

Planners give green light to playing fields at Berry Creek

Veronica Whitney

The commissioners unanimously recommended approval for three multi-purpose playing fields, part of a 35-acre recreation area. The project, the second at the Berry Creek 5th passed by the planning commission, is scheduled to go before to Eagle County commissioners next week.

Phase 1 includes three athletic fields, a “passive park” area to include a picnic shelter, eating and playground equipment, landscaping – including a berm along Miller Ranch Road and other improvements. The proposed parking lot and retention pond would be temporary and could be relocated in the future.

“This is a small part of the total recreation project,” said Eagle County Manager Jack Ingstad. “We’ve talked of putting in a lake and softball fields. But we want to move forward with the first phase because there’s a need in the community for these fields.”

Construction on the three fields – which will be used mostly for soccer, but would also be available for lacrosse, baseball and other sports – could begin as early as mid-July and would be completed by the end of September, said Rich Cunningham, Eagle County’s director of facilities management.

“I don’t know how phasing will be beyond that,” Cunningham said. “The commissioners have asked us to find a design team, and we’re doing that.”

The project also could include a lake, additional ball fields, tennis courts, and possibly a recreation center with a pool and an ice rink, Cunningham said. “The uses will be determined by the design team and the board (of commissioners),” he said. “The board envisions getting some public input, too.”

County commissioners have already appropriated $600,000 for the project out of its supplemental budget.

“Finally we’ll have regulation-size fields in the valley,” said County Engineer Helen Migchelbrink, who’s also a soccer referee.

The recreation fields would be next to 282-unit apartment complex, the largest affordable housing project in the county, which was approved by county commissioners in April. Construction on the 31.5-acre residential housing project is scheduled to begin this summer.

During last week’s hearing, Planning Commissioner Patricia Hammon said there should be a major safety barrier between the playing fields and the affordable-housing complex.

“We have to think of the safety of the homes and the young children,” she said. “There are going to be small kids playing in the residential area and older kids playing in the fields.”

Dan Seibel, planning commission chairman, said he was concerned there would not be enough space for the spectators.

“These fields will be extremely successful,” Seibel said. “These events are becoming social events. We haven’t seen a parking lot in the Vail Valley large enough for the amount of people we have.”

County Engineer and soccer referee Helen Migchelbrink, however, said the 50-foot separation between the fields will be more than enough.

“These fields were designed with the help of soccer experts,” she told the planning commission. “These fields are laid-out well, from the spectators’ and the players’ point of view.”

Meanwhile, the main road to the project, Miller Ranch Road, is under construction, scheduled for completion in September, Migchelbrink said.

Architects for Colorado Mountain College, however, are still working on plans for a 35,000-square-foot building on two and a half acres. CMC administrators initially said their goal was to break ground in August.

CMC Vice President Bob Spuhler said he expected the new campus to open in the fall of 2003. But Joe Marquez, CMC spokesman, says construction of the new campus might have to wait until April.

The Berry Creek 5th project will be built on a 105-acre tract owned by Eagle County. The Eagle County School District owns an adjacent, 109-acre parcel known as Miller Ranch. Presently, Berry Creek Middle School and the Eagle County Charter Academy are the only two facilities operating at Miller Ranch.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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