Valley Voices: Leave Eagle fields alone |

Valley Voices: Leave Eagle fields alone

I am writing to commend Fred Butler, Jan Rosenthal, Suzanne Shepard, and numerous others who have recently written against Eagle River Station. They said exactly what I and many other people think about it. I am no longer an Eagle resident, but my work and friends bring me there often. I constantly drive by the former Chambers Ranch, and the current ERS proposal on those green pastures makes my stomach knot.

I, too, find it ludicrous that lush green hayfields with a herd of horses frolicking ahead of a rainstorm or grazing peacefully could ever be deemed “blighted.” Since when is a calendar-perfect view “blighted”?

Let’s talk about the view from I-70 of Chambers Avenue or Grand Avenue and then use the term blighted! Who are they kidding? Not me.

My husband and I went to Durango last year and were shocked to find the entire valley on the way into town covered with huge asphalt parking lots (with maybe 20 cars) along with a row of 1-3 story buildings.

This once beautiful and dramatic entry to a cool, historic town had been ruined! As we strolled the “real,” original downtown shops, I mentioned to an antique dealer that we had noticed the new shopping area outside of town.

With great disdain, the clerk said, “Yeah, they built a new, so-called town center, but so far it’s not too successful. Most of the town is upset it happened at all.”

She said the developer wasn’t coming through on major agreements, was having trouble renting or selling space, a major anchor had backed out and 60 percent of the space was still dead. Landscaping had not been completed, and storm drainage for the massive parking lots didn’t have good filtering systems to catch oil, antifreeze and other spilled substances that were starting to pollute a nearby creek.

Do we want the Eagle River to be at risk due to ERS? Acres of parking can do big damage to a river so close by!

I also reflect on my hometown in Ohio that approved a shopping center when the town had a population of 24,000 (four times the size of Eagle now!) in the early ’60s. With a well-established downtown, much larger than any around here, the shopping center put 20 percent to 30 percent of the longtime, locally owned businesses downtown out of business in two years! It looked terrible. Storefronts were boarded up!

The town grew and eventually things balanced out, but it took 20 or more years! Locals regretted the loss of the ma and pa shops for years afterward.

It sounds like many newcomers have moved here for the quality of smalltown life, probably the same as I did 22 years ago when my daughter was 7. I had been in several big cities the 20-plus years previously, with the last being Denver.

I was a single mom, working 10- to 12-hour days and was quite inconvenienced one evening as I drove to Glenwood (half of I-70 was still only two lanes then) to get school clothes and supplies. I grumbled through the canyon, “I can’t believe we have to go 24 miles to get clothes!”

My daughter said, “But Mom, we have the best ride to the mall of anybody in America” as she gazed up at the canyon walls. “Out of the mouths of babes!”

I remembered why I had chosen to move here and realized it was very little sacrifice compared to what we see and enjoy. We had dinner out, along with shopping and made it a girl’s night out…quality time. Now there are many affordable shops within a short drive.

I tend to think that those who want convenience shouldn’t have moved here at all or need to remember why they moved here. Did they see Eagle before they moved?

They should drive to Rifle, Breckenridge, Buena Vista, Basalt or Carbondale. There isn’t a four- or five-story building in any of them.

Red Development said in a recent article that “this flat valley is perfect for this development.”

No! Just the opposite ” the flat valley will make those tall buildings more monolithic and intrusive. They’ll block views in all directions from I-70. I don’t want that to be what I see every day or for travelers to remember of Eagle. I’d rather our visitors say, “We stopped for lunch in this quaint little mountain town, found unique shops, etc”.

I believe that Red is looking for a way to maximize their profits at the expense of Eagle. There just aren’t enough near-future benefits for the town to make the immense sacrifices such as the views and ambiance that Eagle has maintained to date. It can never be retrieved once lost. Many will be dead and gone, and more than likely, their children will have moved away before the proposed sales taxes truly benefit the town.

Those living here in 2033 will possibly be saying, “Why did those old coots ever let this happen? It doesn’t even fit a Rocky Mountain lifestyle!” (And it really doesn’t.)

Eagle deserves something better, more creative and unique to suit the chosen smalltown quality and lifestyle. Eagles doesn’t need a Kansas City “lifestyle-town center.”

Stand up for your town, Eagle like you did for 20-plus years against Fred Kummer. You can continue to be winners!

Karen A. Filter lives in Gypsum.

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