What should we do with Wolcott? | VailDaily.com
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What should we do with Wolcott?

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

WOLCOTT – Wolcott can be developed into a growing community without losing its “Wild West” character, residents and developers agreed at an open house planning meeting Thursday.

“We should keep the Western character,” said Kirk VanHee, who has lived in Wolcott Springs for 12 years with his family. “Wolcott could be a great place to live.”

County planners presented plans about the future development of the 90 square miles between Edwards and Eagle and were on hand throughout the day to answer questions. About 50 Eagle county residents attended the afternoon session held at 4 Eagle Ranch and browsed the maps and charts displayed around the room.

Residents completed a survey that asked for opinions about alternative ideas for the development. The main focus was alternatives for the valley floor, where planners hope to develop the community’s center.

Planners outlined three options for development, from a rural village center surrounded by open space, to a larger village with some housing, parks and trails, to a town center with medium density housing, more public facilities and some open space.

The county plans to have a draft to show the public by December and adopt a final plan by February 2008.

Most residents said that while they would prefer the area to remain as it is, they know that development is inevitable. And if development is coming, they would not mind a few more conveniences, such as a gas station or grocery store, too.

“We have to make room for other people,” said Bonnie Carroll, who has lived on Wolcott’s Bellyache Ridge since 1987. “But we should also maintain some of the area’s rural character.”

Those things can be accomplished with careful planning, keeping a pedestrian- and public-transit friendly town layout and maybe a Western-style architecture, said senior county planner Cliff Simonton

VanHee said he would like to see some businesses and residences as well as open space, parks and trails. He said he feels the general sentiment is that planners want to incorporate the good attributes of towns like Avon, Edwards and Eagle into Wolcott.

“It’d be fun to drive down, shop in a nice little grocery store, then sit down at a locally owned coffee shop, and walk across the street to pick up some stuff from an old-fashioned hardware store,” he said.

Residents were worried about the problems that come with development. Longtime Bellyache Ridge resident Mitch Imber said he is worried that there is no clear plan to deal with water supplies for the area.

Most of the water for the area comes from either community well systems or the Eagle River, parts of which can run too dry. While water can be an increasing problem, it is all part of the process developers will have to go through before plans are final, Simonton said.

Jane Imber said she would like to see small, dense development in the valley floor, but is concerned that it could cause considerable traffic. She would also like an equestrian center built in the area.

“People come to Colorado to see what remains of the Old West. Let’s give the Wild West some room,” she said. However, she said, she thought planners did an excellent job providing options, and she hopes residents’ opinions have an impact.

Eagle-Vail resident Tom Backhus, who runs 4 Eagle Ranch, said that while everyone wants open space, Wolcott has a community responsibility to develop into an affordable community.

“We have a responsibility to incorporate the service sector and address the housing issue. Most people here realize that’s a priority,” he said.

Take the online survey available through Aug. 15 and see development maps at http://www.eaglecounty.us. This is the last chance for the public to give their opinion before officials come up with a first draft of the plan, said senior county planner Cliff Simonton.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2929 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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