Vail Daily letter: Everything’s ruined
May 26, 2012
It is no wonder the town of Eagle finds itself in the current situation of pimping itself out to generate sales tax revenue by courting a commercial development the size of Eagle River Station, thereby deviating yet again from what defines a town and core retail district. An inventory of retail in Eagle looks like this:
Downtown: Four blocks in length, capped by the fabulously well-thought out location of county buildings right next to the main town park. Great vision, town of Eagle, to allow that! And who else but the fantastic planning committee at the town would place the town hall and offices in one of the most prime retail areas of its core business district, thereby eliminating any potential revenue from retail sales? A half-block of retail-potential soaked up by the town of Eagle itself!
Chambers: Another retail area, sprawled-out and nowhere near the core business district, but a true eyesore to visitors approaching town with the added feature of no identity or conformity to the character of a small town.
Eby Creek Road: Comes after Chambers Road development, this time across Interstate 70, another cluster of struggling, gasping, and closed businesses being replaced by non-retail businesses that don’t generate sales tax revenue (dentist, telephone service, a title company, a mortgage company that all, thankfully, pay the bills because fragmentation doesn’t hurt such businesses).
Capitol Street-Eagle Ranch: Most recent addition to the terrifically watered-down lineup of retail. Several buildings empty since construction. Many businesses have opened and since failed.
Enter Eagle River Station: Continued fragmentation, oversized gamble of retail that promises to fix all of the lack of foresight, planning, and vision by the appointed and elected officials for the last 15 years. Maybe if this fails, the town could condemn Sylvan Lake State Park and try to put in another retail area there!
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Over 10 years ago, the town paid an outside consulting firm to evaluate the town’s appearance. The general conclusion was that the town lacked an identity, was not pedestrian-friendly due to a lack of sidewalks, and was rather ugly. Instead of increasing the size of the central business district and creating synergy, pull-through, and the viability of increased numbers of businesses being enticed, the town continues to look at commercial fragmentation and sprawl to save it from itself. Add to that an adversarial climate that entrepreneurs encounter when dealing with the town of Eagle, and it reaps what it has sown. But we all pay the price in one form or another!
So I say this to Eagle’s mayor, town manager, town planner, Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Trustees: What will your legacy be, more of the same or true responsibility to the larger community that you serve? The citizens who live here have invested everything, and so far we have been let down!