Sticking to original plan |

Sticking to original plan

Ceil Folz

As part of the ongoing fundraising effort for Eagle River Preserve, we have regularly sent out e-mails to our supporters, updating them on the progress that has been made on the project. Following is the most recent update of several days ago, concerning a new offer from a developer that we wanted to share with the public.Dear Eagle River Preserve supporter: I wanted to update you on an offer that had recently been put forth relative to the Eagle River Preserve project.As you may be aware, since the outset of this project, we have received several different proposals from Community Concepts and developers Rick Hermes and George Saunders that would entail us exchanging varying portions of the Eaton Ranch parcel for commercial development in return for both monetary and land benefits. In each instance, we have carefully evaluated their proposals, but respectfully declined.Recently, we held discussions with Community Concepts about a plan that would have carved out a 4-acre parcel of Eaton Ranch for commercial development in exchange for a $400,000 contribution to our fundraising effort. Community Concepts would then have provided 80 acres of the (105-acre) B&B property as part of Eagle River Preserve. This was a proposal that initially we felt might have merit. However, on closer examination, we realized that we would actually not be gaining anything that we did not already have. This additional 80 acres was primarily comprised of land in the flood plain or wetlands, land that we feel will exist as open space anyway, given the challenges of developing in these areas.At the end of the day, we decided that the best course of action was to stay with our original commitment to the community of preserving the 72 acres of Eaton Ranch. From the very beginning, the Vail Valley Foundation has been a facilitator and fundraiser for this project and this was not a decision that was made in a vacuum. We polled many of our partners in this effort, all of whom felt that we should decline the offer.The good news in all of this is that we continue to garner financial support for Eagle River Preserve and now stand just $300,000 short of our $12 million goal with six weeks to go until closing. This fundraising effort will be ongoing, even after the September closing, to facilitate additional improvements to the project.Once acquired, Eagle River Preserve will become public open space, owned by Eagle County, for hiking, biking, fishing and wildlife viewing and preserved forever. The parcel would also represent the first significant stretch of public open space between Vail and Edwards. Ceil Folz is the executive director of the Vail Valley Foundation.Vail, Colorado

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