Rolling on the river park: Eagle’s river park finally under construction
EAGLE — Moses may have had it easier parting the Red Sea than the crew diverting the Eagle River to build the town’s new river park.
After all, Moses had God on his side and did not have to contend with the federal government.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrapped up its permit in a bow and presented it to the town of Eagle on Thursday, Dec. 21.
The Hobbs Excavating and Truck crews checked their Christmas stockings and then got to work building the four in-stream whitewater park features — the third and fourth this winter, moving upstream to build the first and second next winter when stream flows are low.
To do that, they have to make water walk.
They’ll use 2-foot by 2-foot by 6-foot concrete blocks to build a dike that will divert the Eagle River into a series of 48-inch pipes buried in the bottom of the bank on the river’s north side, Stuart Hobbs explained.
The river will “magically” reappear downstream from the last in-stream feature.
Once the river is diverted, massive rocks and other parts of the in-stream features will be placed precisely where they’re supposed to go. That placement will become permanent when the engineers sign off on it.
They hope to work through April, to be wrapped up before the water gets high during spring runoff, Hobbs said.
They might get back in the water in August and September to start on the next two features.
In between, this summer they’ll work on converting the fairgrounds gravel parking lot into the Upland Park. It’s expected to open sometime in 2018.
So far, no boaters have appeared panting on the riverbank and praying to Poseidon, god of the seas, for the work to move more quickly.
Town and county partnership
The river park is 4.3 acres composed of two main components: the in-stream whitewater park and the Upland Park on the north side of the Colorado River. The park wraps along the Eagle River near the Eagle County Fairgrounds and Chambers Park.
While the town is the project lead, the county has lots of skin in this game.
“The goal is to maintain the county’s award-winning rodeo, while transforming a gravel lot into a year-round community asset and world-class whitewater park,” said Kevin Sharkey, with Eagle County.
Eagle County owns most of the land where the Upland Park will be built.
The town and county have been working together for two years.
“It’s been a good partnership,” Sharkey said.
The county’s share includes:
• Eagle County is providing about six acres of property, including land and river.
• Eagle County Road and Bridge is providing about $52,000 in construction material and in-kind work.
• Eagle County rodeo operations will increase about $22,000 annually as a result of the Eagle River Park, mostly because much of the contestant parking is being displaced.
• Eagle County has spent more than 800 hours of staff time over the past two years in planning and support.
• Eagle County provided $25,000 toward the design, most of it to redesign the Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall area.
Paying for it
When the park was conceived, it was expected to cost roughly $1.6 million, the amount being bandied about when Eagle voters approved a 0.5 percent sales tax in April 2016 to pay for it.
After analyzing various phases of the project, the whitewater park is now expected to cost $2.7 million.
The town staff is asking the public to help find ways to save money on the Upland Park part of the project.
All in, the entire park is expected to cost $5.9 million. Eagle is applying for local, regional, state and federal grants, as well as grants from private foundations, to help pay for it.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.