Vail Daily letters to the editor
May 19, 2012
Some better ideas
If an anonymous donor — say, Bill Gates — did give $1 billion to Eagle, we would still have problems.
Some would want to build a big golden gate and lock newcomers out. Some would want to set aside some for their grandchildren to enjoy our town. Some would want to spend it for pet projects. And some would sit back quietly and secretly wonder how fast our government could spend it and ask for more. And some would be mad he only gave us a billion when he is worth so much more while they still have their own mortgage to pay.
Although lack of money creates problems, money does not solve problems. Money creates new problems. (Remember, this developer purchased this land for over $19 million.)
We all want what is best for Eagle. Something that has been so divisive is worth us taking a step back. It is unlikely our town will implode tomorrow. My compromise:
1. Do away with all housing. There are plenty of foreclosures and rentals available. If we are “putting our neighbors back to work” and offering “part-time jobs for our teens and college students,” they already have residences. The housing industry crash was a major reason we got into a national recession in the first place. Supply and demand means if there are more residences available, your residence is worth less. A sustainable economy involves more than construction and housing.
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2. Cut the existing plan to 50 percent of the retail size and density, and reduce the unit size in at least one cluster to workable, small-business size similar to Riverwalk shops.
3. The remaining 50 percent to be used for athletic fields and a conference-retreat center to increase tourism and guests to our town. After studying communities like Steamboat Springs, Telluride, Leadville and Fruita, we can market our town and attract people for activities part of the year: lacrosse tournaments, soccer tournaments, festivals, religious retreats, yoga retreats, biking tours or races, professional conferences, etc.
4. Solar panels or windmills (similar to the aesthetic windmill ones at the Parachute Welcome Center) to separate the retail from conference area- fields. Something to generate renewable energy for the town and distinguish us.
5. Tax breaks for 10 years instead of 25. (Costco was given five years; Avon’s Traer development got 20 years and resulted in over a decade of legal battles.)
6. Reduce infrastruture demand by half. Prioritize with needs, urgent wants and wants. Similar to what families have had to do in this down economy. (You don’t spend money on watering your lawn if you can’t feed or clothe your family.)
7. Trolly or connector to downtown-Eagle Ranch. Renewable electric or natural gas-powered people movers or bike-carts to encourage people to see our town.
8. Town and Town Board work with existing retail business to ensure sustainability. Perhaps lessen sign code to allow businesses greater exposure, perhaps free WiFi to downtown-Eagle Ranch retail area to encourage gathering places.
9. The Internet’s role. Recognize and later attempt to address the loss of local sales tax revenues (not to mention local business) from click and ship online spending. Those of us who stand in line at the post office daily see the amount of goods coming into this are without any local sales tax applied. You can’t buy alcohol in Colorado and legally take it into Utah, but you can click and ship nearly anywhere without paying local sales taxes. Again, this won’t be solved in a day.
10. Retail business lost. While the town was developing their dream list and our Town Board was inundated with developer requests the first and second go-around the following retail businesses closed or left our area. Not a simple survey or personal contact was made to attempt to slow the bleeding. The town watched sales tax revenue dwindle and turned a blind eye on these owners: Mi Pueblo, Patina’s, Starbucks, Strickland’s, JB Cricket’, Zak’s Deli, Smoothie Shop, Dominos, Back Alley Pizza, Salsa’s, Broadway Bar and Grill, Smiling Moose, Colorado Capital Bank, KidTopia, BeKIND Bike, Mommie and Me, Video Store, Flower Cart, just to name a few.
Please vote “no” so we can compromise.
Anne Pence Eagle
We know the Eagle Town Board has already voted in favor of the Eagle River Station project. We believe it’s now essential that you, the board – our leaders — move the town forward to also vote in favor.
My name is Mick Daly, and I’m speaking on behalf of Vote YES to ERS.
My wife, Jenny, and I have lived in Eagle for three years. When we made the decision to move here, all was well with the economy. We chose Eagle because it had potential. That potential we saw, and still see, as quality of life.
So, what will it take for Eagle to achieve that potential? It will take two things: Eagle River Station and your leadership.
It’s a fact that without people and money, Eagle cannot survive. That’s why Eagle River Station is so important to the future of Eagle: ERS will bring money, jobs and healthy growth, plus improved quality of life for all.
I have a somewhat unique perspective on Eagle, having lived my first 40 years in England, the last 25 in the USA, and having traveled in 48 states and on five continents.
My local perspective is from living in Glenwood Springs for eight years. While in Glenwood, we lived through the controversial Glenwood Meadows retail development.
Started in late 2004, the Meadows was completed not long before the economy started to go south. Many people feared the worst. Yet now, still in a down economy, the Meadows and downtown Glenwood are thriving, and even the old West Glenwood Mall is welcoming new tenants. That’s what will happen here when we vote “yes” to ERS.
It’s all about synergy. Last Saturday, 30 or more Eagle families benefited from a communitywide garage sale. They got way more out of it than if they’d gone ahead as individuals. That same synergy worked for Glenwood with the Meadows, and it will work for Eagle with ERS.
I don’t need to repeat the arguments for Eagle River Station or to refute the arguments against it. Others have done that far better than I can. Suffice it to say that we have gone over all those arguments and all the numbers and discounted the exaggerations and inaccurate information.
We have concluded that without ERS, we cannot see Eagle achieving any of its potential. Eagle will slowly but surely decline because you, our leadership, will be unable to meet the needs of this community with totally inadequate funding at your disposal.
That will make Eagle increasingly unattractive to potential (and some existing) residents and businesses because they will see no future for Eagle.
Conversely, a “yes” vote for ERS is a “yes” vote for Eagle’s bright future.
If my words reach the ears or the eyes of other Eagle residents, my challenge to you is to get out and vote May 22.
In 2010, about 60 percent of registered residents voted on ERS. We want to see this vote much closer to 100 percent. Then the vote might more accurately reflect the people’s choice.
To those Eagle folks who are undecided or did not vote last time, I say this: On an issue as important as this, there is no room for indecision or apathy. If you live here, vote here! Give us a good “yes” or a good “no.”
If you are voting “no”truly because you think it is a bad choice for this town, I respect you for that (although, of course, I disagree).
But to those who would vote “no” out of fear – fear of failure, fear of change, fear of loss or fear of the unknown – I say this: Your fear is not the spirit of this great nation, nor of this state, nor of this town. It is not the spirit of the pilgrims, the pioneers or of our Founding Fathers.
Instead of voting out of fear, join those of us who still embody that spirit and vote “yes” to ERS. Then let us all work together for a brighter future for Eagle.
Whatever the result of this vote, let’s not be divided by our differences. Let’s be united by our love for Eagle.
We believe that this time, a majority will vote “yes” to ERS because the health and potential of this town, and our quality of life, depend on it.
Then we will trust you, our community leaders, to use the money that flows in from the Eagle River Station project wisely to leverage all the potential of this great town.
Thank you for listening, and thank you for leading!
Saturday morning funnies
The anti-ERS crowd has provided a lot of entertainment in these columns for the past few weeks, citing why ERS can’t (in their opinion) work, won’t work, or just shouldn’t work. Today’s (Saturday, May 12) letters and “Valley Voices” have to be the best group.
You’ve got alternatives thrown on the table (“let’s step up investment in our existing downtown areas …,” Doug Dusenberry); more reasons why ERS won’t work and more alternatives (“Why not a wind or solar farm?” Cici Franklin); and a comparison of ERS to cereal (“We can grow, but let’s go for a bowl of fruit or some yogurt,” Mike Safransky).
But the Best of the Day award goes to Malisa Samsel, who admits that “our local businesses are struggling as it is and people are struggling to support them. … Enjoy the scenery. Vote ‘no’ or leave.”
Come on, “no” people! You have to have something better than this! A lot of you were against Costco and now you’re in there sampling the teriyaki chicken! Most of you were against ERS in 2010 and just gushed about how you were going to make Eagle grow without ERS. (How’s that working for ya?).
These alternatives at the last minute make you look pretty shallow.
The sad fact is that Eagle is in financial trouble. ERS solves the problem. It has been approved after countless hours of work by Eagle citizens on the Planning Commission (seven yes to zero no) and by a vote by the Eagle Town Board (six yes, one no).
Why don’t you “noNO” voters put in some time to check what those people did who worked to get the project in line with Eagle’s long-term plan? That effort alone will probably interest you, cut down your objections and show some respect to the people who did the work.
So get active, save this town, vote “yes” to ERS.
John Chizmadia Eagle
Invitation to talk
Dear Mr. Cook, thank you for your civil response to my Valley Voices against the folly of Eagle River Station. Yours is an example of how people with opposite views should engage with each other. Well done, sir.
I’d be happy to meet with you anytime, in person. Don Rogers has my phone number.
You asked, “Do you know something I don’t know.” Based on your polite letter (thanks again), the answer is “yes.” Just as your opinions appear to be qualified, so are mine. Mine come from 22 years of business in high technology. I’ve succeeded and failed, won and lost. I’m not a has-been. I have another startup I’m working on as I type this. I have unique insights into the economy, finance and economics that, based on what you’ve written, you do not have. I’m not saying I have a leg up on you. I’m just saying my experience is different than yours.
I believe that for every two jobs technology creates, it kills more. I also think that people up here underestimate how technology will change and affect their lives. I’m not against development. I’m not a NIMBY. But I’m for human development over commercial development.
Where you seem to see an economy that’ll bounce back and thrive once more, I see an economy that’s built on sand and on times that aren’t coming back. Just as you’re not ready to trust Brandi and Yuri, I feel the same way about the leaders around here. While I appreciate and respect their service, I think they’ve made and are making mistakes. I’ll be happy to tell them, as well, if they ask.
Of course, I realize sales tax is important and I’m not proposing to abandon the revenue stream. What I am proposing is for the discussion around here to shift from how it’s been to how it is. My vision is long term. It relies on us all paying a little more, which you and no doubt others are diametrically opposed to.
So this is now three letters by me. It’s time for me to step aside. I don’t want to dominate the discussion. Others have their views. Let’s hear as many as possible so voters can make an informed decision.
It’s time, for me anyway, to move this discussion off-line. You said, “I am listening.” Well, how about I buy you a cup of coffee and we chat?
Paul Kulas Eagle