Three who have sculpted Eagle
Every other Tuesday for eight years, Paul Gregg, Tom Ehrenberg and Bruce Hasbrouck walked, biked or drove to the Town Hall to sit as trustees of the town of Eagle and weather the arrows of public service.
Decision by decision, they helped sculpt the policy and cityscape of Eagle. Instead, of writing a list of accomplishments, I offer thanks for their vision and stamina by way of the following personality sketches.
Paul Gregg, who works for Eagle County Buildings and Grounds, is plainspoken. He proved to be the obstinate equal of Fred Kummer during Adam’s Rib negotiations – they developed an odd sort of mongoose-cobra respect that year.
Gregg says it as he sees it, without “political” pretense. He started his service on the glamorous, defunct Sewer District Board and moved on to Eagle Planning Commission. It’s about principles for Gregg, many of which are reflected in what Eagle did not become during his tenure – someone else’s second home gated community, a cute doormat town, etc.
In his time, Gregg recorded the most one-man dissenting votes. More than once after lengthy development review, he leaned back in his chair and said, “its just 10 pounds of … in a 5 pound sack.”
I’ll never forget the night an ex-bar owner was verbally abusive. Paul stood and pointed a finger at him and said, “Leave now, before I have to come around there.” Tough guy? Maybe. He rode a bicycle to most meetings.
Like Gregg, Bruce Hasbrouck is not an obviously heroic guy in spite of his many years at the Planning Commission before the Town Board. A construction superintendent who listens intently and without much expression, for entire meetings he has not said a word other than to vote. I often look over at Hasbrouck and think, “I really talk too much.” Like characterizing Eagle as a quiet town, this trait of silence can be deceiving.
When Hasbrouck sits forward, cocks his head to the side, and flexes his eyebrows, you know someone is about to be taken to task.
Leaning into the microphone he will proceed to energetically pick apart an argument and finish by imploring an explanation with a stare and another eyebrow flex. He has a strong sense of what is right about Eagle without being preachy.
Hasbrouck may be the best example on the board of someone with high expectations, whether it is for new development or for keeping the sidewalks shoveled in old Eagle. Even in winter, he walks to meetings, and he has a long memory of those who forget to tend to their sidewalks.
Though it is still winter in Eagle, Tom Ehrenberg, of the Eagle County Buildings and Grounds Department, is a trustee on a rampage against noxious weeds like leafy spurge. Much to the chagrin of landowners who go to seed, or projects that fail to build to their landscape plan, Ehrenberg gets prickly when such details fall through the cracks.
Ehrenberg prefers the stick to the carrot. His favorite question to staff is, “Are we holding a (performance) bond on that project?”
Ehrenberg has a gentle side, too, and organizing and volunteering his free time to clean up projects, the fire department, and the local hockey club. A tireless advocate for the little guy, if Ehrenberg carried a flag it would read, “Don’t tread on Eagle.”
Eagle is not the town it was when these three started. We have ushered in a lot of changes. There are a lot more boxes in the post office today, and maybe some large commercial development on the horizon. These three embody the old-time community spirit of Eagle, which is still strong here and makes Eagle such an attractive place.
Whether you agree or disagree with all the changes, thank Gregg, Ehrenberg and Hasbrouck. They were not the kind to stick their heads in the sand, stand back, complain, and let others shape Eagle. Instead, these three, along with many others, have persevered and in doing so, placed their stamp on Eagle as such a fine place.
Eagle has a new covered ice rink, but my the Norman Rockwell image of Eagle quaintness will always be of Ehrenberg and Gregg among the volunteers who each winter for years hosed water onto the frozen grass at the Town Park after dark, and “Zambonied” it into an ice rink with a lawn tractor.
In a way, that image says it all about their brand of public service. We’ve come a long ways, but would be hard pressed to do better. Thanks guys.
Jon Stavney is a member of the Eagle Town Board.