Vail Daily Letter: Eagle River Station would improve community |

Vail Daily Letter: Eagle River Station would improve community

Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

As members of the Yes! For Eagle’s Future Committee, we want to continue to explore all the ways that we see the Eagle River Sta-tion fitting in with the 1996 Eagle Area Community Plan.

It is important to remember that the EACP is a guiding document written by local citizens using their own perspectives as well as local input. It is not a book of reg-ulations or ordinances meant to be strictly adhered to, and it cannot accurately antic-ipate all eventualities that can occur in the ensuing decade.

It was very important to the writers of this document, and continues so today, that the “small-town character” of Eagle should remain. As conversations about this point have sprung up all over the community, we have given this whole idea more thought.

When the EACP was written in 1996, the population was about 2,100 people. A deci-sion had been made that the town did not want to become a base mountain village for a ski resort and have its economy even more tied to the resort industry. It did not want waves of seasonal employees entering and exiting the town as the ski season moved through its paces. The thought was that a population estimate of about 6,400 by 2015 was pretty accurate. No one really anticipated the surge of popularity and ensuing construction that was about to impact Eagle.

It is fair to say that Eagle remains popular and will continue to be so even after the economic upheaval. Amenities sponsored and sustained by Eagle Ranch, The Orchard and the Bluffs development include won-derful upgrades on Broadway, a workout facility, bike paths and trails, golf course, pool and ice rink, tennis courts, public parks and open space to name a few. All of these are enhancements available to every resident of Eagle.

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In 1996, citizens of Eagle felt that future population of Eagle would fall within 4,000 to 7,000 people, and they looked to other Colorado towns such as Gunnison, Mon-trose and Glenwood Springs as target mod-els. Now, the population of those towns range between 6,500 to 16,500 people. Growth has occurred all over Colorado, not just in our area.

Many people say that they moved here for the “small-town atmosphere” of Eagle, though this is not the most compelling rea-son for many. Lots of residents moved here because they could turn a wonderful profit on another home elsewhere in the county and buy a larger, newer home here. Many moved here because their kids and grand-kids lived close by, the terrific golf course, the beautiful views and surrounding public lands, and because there is usually less snow here in the winter.

It is safe to say that nobody moved here for the shopping. Our lives are not defined by shopping.

If “small-town atmosphere” were the most compelling reason to move anywhere, then why didn’t we move to one of the many other small towns in Colorado? There are lots of choices, so why aren’t we in Nucla, Olathe, Meeker or Delta?

As we considered this question, some important details came up. Eagle has the amazing distinction of being close to all of these things: beautiful public lands, out-door recreation, dedicated open space, wildlife, world-class skiing, world-class din-ing, an incredible airport and the prospect of employment in an area supported by all of the foregoing.

Unlike many small towns elsewhere, we have all of these things, plus our kids can go to good schools without being bussed far away. For the most part, we do not depend on well water and septic systems, we can live on paved streets and have sidewalks and recreation paths instead of graded roads. We can use natural gas and not propane, and have trash and recycling picked up at the curb. This is only a partial list! It seems very clear to us that Eagle is not in any way a “normal” small Western town.

Aside from these outstanding attrib-utes, what are the other things we are passionate about in our small town? We absolutely love the quality of our neighborhoods and neighbors. We share with them and care for them. We provide a support system for each oth-er that is unbeatable. We love to see each other frequently, and to run into each other downtown, at Costco, the grocery store or the recreation paths. We like to play golf and ski together. We like seeing familiar faces and knowing names.

All of these things make Eagle what it is today, and we think it is pretty spe-cial. They also ensure the popularity of this location in the future, as people who have always dreamed of living in Colorado make their way here, just as we have.

So now we have some important decisions for the future of our town and how it will be fiscally solvent. Just the way income is important to sus-tain families, towns must have income, too. The only real avenue for a town to get income is through sales tax revenue.

Right now, we experience a “leak-age” of this important resource to Denver, Glenwood Springs, Silver-thorne and the Internet when we run out of shopping options in our own hometown. We are not necessarily devoted “shop-a-holics,” but there are still things that we need to buy that we can’t get here. We want to see our expenditures benefit our own town, and we believe that’s what responsible citizens think.

When we considered Eagle River Station as an important part of the town’s future and its financial stabili-ty, we asked ourselves how it would really change our lives or our small-town character, and came up with these things: ERS would allow more local people to find full- or part-time employment without commuting. Teenagers (and there are a lot of kids here) will find part-time jobs here without having to drive to Avon or Vail in all weather. Lots of our citizens can be employed providing services such as HVAC con-tracts for stores, landscaping and maintenance, roofing repairs, store finish out work, security systems for stores, window washing and the like.

According to our town engineer, ERS will actually improve traffic con-ditions in town because of changes that can be made as a direct result of the development. We will have impor-tant new infrastructure for water serv-ices and a new interchange.

On the other hand, we do not think that our relationships with each other will change at all. We will still shop together at our favorite stores down-town, see each other at the bowling alley, The Dusty Boot, Target and new specialty stores, go to town events, send our kids to school on bikes or foot, play in the parks, use the bike trails, use our public lands and go to state and national parks, play with our dogs, look at our views and sit around our fire pits together.

We will see each other at church, and donate to local charities. Maybe we will make some new friends as well. We will also be contributing to the future financial condition of our town without raising taxes and fees or taking on additional public debt for which the town is responsible. We think that is what responsible citizens do.

A mixed- use project with a shop-ping center cannot “ruin” Eagle. Eagle is us. We are Eagle. The “character” of Eagle is in its people. We urge all of you to remember that and to support Eagle River Station for the future of Eagle.

Dale Aden, John and Pat Cook, Nora Fryklund, Bob and Diane Holmes, Jay Jaffe, Durk and Suzy Price, Rick and Frances Rolater

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