Rogers: The tempest to come
Vail, CO Colorado
I accept that many friends and neighbors disagree with me ” some strongly ” but I believe building the Eagle River Station shopping center would be a good idea.
I believe the revenue for the town, about $2.5 million each year, would be good for a municipality with a current budget of $14.6 million.
I believe the location of the center on 88 acres in the town’s growth zone and between Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6 is good.
I believe it would help rather than hurt business in Eagle’s long-struggling historic downtown.
I believe it would be good for fostering Eagle’s small-town community values.
I’ve lived in and covered a lot of small towns in my time. There is such a thing as too small, and the Eagle I know suffers a bit from that.
But I also respect our differences. My favor for Eagle River Station is not a slam-dunk, easy conclusion.
I can understand small-business owners being wary, even deeply suspicious.
I can see how people who have lived here longer than my decade might have a different sense of what constitutes that ideal small-town community feel.
So what I favor most is a community referendum after the Town Board works out the best, fairest agreement for Eagle River Station it possibly can.
Whichever your position, I’m sure we’d all agree that this is big enough for the town’s voters to decide.
Too bad I can’t vote. I live up Eby Creek Road where it’s turned to dirt. Like many people, I live outside the town boundaries, even though I sent my kids to Eagle schools, get the mail at the Eagle post office, buy groceries in Eagle, gas in Eagle, shop when I can in Eagle, eat in Eagle. Well, you get the picture.
I’m OK with not being able to vote on this. I can live with what the community decides either way.
I’m not so OK with the inevitable exaggerations that fly well past fact when these controversies flare.
Eagle, particularly the historic center of town, is not some pristine slice of Americana about to be ruined. Eagle Ranch’s little downtown-ette is closer to that mark.
But neither is Eagle going to blow away with the next tumbleweed if the community turns the proposal down. It will survive either way.
The developers are far from evil or all out-of-towners. One partner, Vince Riggio, lives here, too. And a fair number of longtime locals are employed by the developer. They are neither evil nor morally misguided.
The developer is well-funded and will manage the center after it is built. In other words, they will have an ongoing stake in the success of the center.
The 88 acres stretching east of Chambers do not make for a valuable wildlife area. That would be the Brush Creek Valley, where Eagle Ranch and other subdivisions march by the thousands of of homes and acres and fit the truer definition of “sprawl.”
The freeway, however, is a good location for the shopping center, done well. The studies showing the leakage of consumers from the valley to shop elsewhere are not shady fakes designed to trick. The people who propose to build the project would also operate it. There is no gain in fooling the town into something with no legs.
The current down cycle will pass. So basing conclusions on tomorrow based on today will not provide an accurate view of the center’s longterm prospects, which I believe are good.
My position is not based — as one of the anti-center group leaders has flung at me — on thinking the paper might get more advertising as a result.
For starters, editors don’t really spend much time fussing about advertising; we have enough to keep us busy with our jobs. But yes, the business interests at the paper want what’s best for business. Of course.
However, building new shopping centers isn’t necessarily what’s best for business. Any business wants first for its current customer base to succeed, not be harmed.
I personally want to see the businesses here now continue to survive and thrive, and of course the folks in the sales side of our business only want that, too.
I could just as well accuse leaders of the anti-center group of thinking only about their businesses. I won’t do that. That does concern them, I’m sure, and obviously they don’t believe they would see more rather than fewer customers with Eagle River Station. But I know their concerns run deeper than pure self interest.
It sure would be helpful if the exaggeration and impugning of people could just take a back seat to a cooler discussion in this community I call home.
I’ll forgive my friends and neighbors for not seeing the value in building Eagle River Station the way I do. And I will aim to stay patient when the more excitable opponents decide I’m not merely wrong, but evil and the worst sort of scum, as well.
Still, would it be too much to remind everyone in the tempest to come that we are friends and neighbors, and that whatever our differences, we each want what we believe is best for Eagle?
We all have that much in common.
Don Rogers is the editor and associate publisher of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at 748-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He welcomes your comments.