Why Traer Creek should pay
Vail CO, Colorado
The agreement finalized between the Town of Avon and Traer Creek in 1998 had several provisions that were intended to make sure the existing town/residents did not suffer lower service levels, or subsidize the Village at Avon as it develops. As was noted at Tuesday’s meeting, there are many flaws in this agreement, the Avon Town Council is doing what it can to repair the flaws. Transportation reimbursement is one of those flaws.
In general the town was to be reimbursed from the developer for services the town provides to the project. Additionally, the town was to be reimbursed for specific taxes that migrated from the town to the Village.
Many residents of Buffalo Ridge have mentioned that they work and shop in Avon, and when they do so they are Avon taxpayers. Unfortunately, there is no way to quantify this amount. Many residents of Eaglebend and other affordable housing in Avon work at Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Traer Creek Plaza. Again this number hasn’t been quantified. At this point in time the patrons of Wal-Mart, Home Depot or the retailers in Traer Creek Plaza are not Avon taxpayers.
Through the 1998 agreement, local “tax revenues” go to Traer Creek, Eagle County, ECO Transit, Eagle County schools, libraries, etc. and the Town of Avon is reimbursed only for the cost of certain services. ECO Transit, for example, is getting approximately $500,000 per year from retailers in the Village in tax revenues to provide their service.
It would be irresponsible to the taxpayers of Avon to continue to subsidize this transportation schedule without the financial support of the Traer Creek Metro District, ECO Transit and Eagle County. These decision-making bodies have revenues from and a responsibility to the residents of Buffalo Ridge and the retailers in the Village.
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From my perspective, one of the reasons I supported starting the Buffalo Ridge/Wal-Mart bus service was because I agree with Mr. Lindholm’s vision for the Village, which include burying most remaining parking and making the Village very green. This vision is consistent with a strong transportation plan.
Mr. Lindholm has always said he wanted to do something for the working person, and he has brought more affordable shopping (Home Depot) to the area. If he is for the working stiff, he should be funding mass transit within the Village as is contemplated in the agreement.
Now that we have this ridership history, Traer Creek could be using the numbers as a marketing tool to get some retailers on board for the “mid-boxes” that have been reluctant to buy into the vision for the Village, which includes an urban parking model (less parking than suburban) for the mid-box retailers.
I further understood the retailers in Traer Creek Plaza would have been open for nine months by now. I think it is important the public recall that when this bus route started the opening date for the retailers in Traer Creek Plaza was to be in mid-summer 2006.
The fact that this building has been so delayed in opening is unfortunate. I believe had the retail space been fully functional by summer 2006, the logic (and Traer Creeks willingness/ability to fund it) of this route would have been even more obvious.
Additionally, the underground parking model would have a track record that would assist Traer Creek in filling all of the space in the Plaza and attracting retailers to the yet to be built mid-boxes.
Lastly, I know the town and Traer Creek can work cooperatively. There was a problem with the 1998 agreement between the town and the Village in the formula that reimbursed the town for police services. Traer Creek worked with the town to amend the agreement to resolve that shortfall and keep the town whole. I was hopeful that the transportation to the Buffalo Ridge residents and Wal-Mart/Home Depot employees and shoppers would be resolved in a similar fashion. Perhaps it still can be. Perhaps that will be the rest of the story.
Amy Phillips is an Avon town councilor.