Wolcott plan goes public | VailDaily.com

Wolcott plan goes public

Randy Wyrick | rwyrick@vaildaily.comJeff Townsend, pictured here, and Rick Hermes have big plans for Wolcott. They submitted concept plans for their proposed master-planned locals community to Eagle County government, and are starting through through the county's approval process.

EDWARDS, Colorado – The concept plan for a new Wolcott community has gone public.

“We’re just starting through the public process,” said Jeff Townsend with Community Concepts Colorado, the local firm proposing the project. “As we get feedback from the county’s planning commission and the board of county commissioners, the plan will evolve.”

Townsend and Rick Hermes are taking baby steps with their planned community on 1,100 acres.

“What has been guiding every detail is thinking about where we want to live and where we’d want our families to live,” Townsend said. He and his wife are about to have their second child.

Developers have been courting the Jouflas families for decades, but the family held out for a master planned community.

“The opportunity to keep the land together as a master planned community should not be missed,” said Chris Jouflas, who, along with brother George are the two patriarchs of the Jouflas families.

Townsend and Hermes have spent three years on the project already, and say they are in no particular hurry. It will take at least two years to wade through the county’s approval process, and 20 years to build it.

“We want to take our time. It took more than three years to get to this point,” Townsend said. “If this was an 18-month project, we could have submitted it faster. But it’s an 18-year project.”

Wolcott would be less than half the size of Edwards, with 65 percent open space and a combination of high-end and starter homes. The village core will include retail space and offices.

The project’s plan parallels Eagle County’s Wolcott area master plan, Townsend said. A big part of that is moving Highway 6 closer to Interstate 70, keeping the highway from splitting the community like it does in other communities.

Moving Highway 6 transforms the community from automobile driven to pedestrian driven, Townsend said. Every street is designed with bike/pedestrian trails, so you can walk or take solar-powered electric golf carts or solar-powered people movers.

There’s a barn/community center with a Poma lift for sledding. They’ve designed four miles of fitness trails.

“We want to master plan that now, instead of trying to shoehorn it in later,” Townsend said.

The focal point is the Eagle River, providing access to that stretch of the Eagle River, which you currently do not have. A 400-foot long sand beach along the river’s edge is part of the plan.

Nearest the river is a 5-acre neighborhood lawn, an expanse of grass and open field. There’s an art district with an amphitheater and a chess set with pieces as tall as you are.

Restaurant Row opens onto the Eagle River. Rafts and kayaks will go and come from public boat launch sites.

The 65 percent open space has the blessing of the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

This would be the second time Wolcott has been a local community center.

The town was once a thriving railhead community of 1,500 people called Russell, after one of the early settlers. Ranchers and farmers from the Eagle River and Colorado River valleys brought products to the railhead to ship to the Front Range. It was also the major intersection of two major highways, U.S. Highway 6 and Highway 131.

Russell fizzled after the Moffat Tunnel was completed in 1928, and rail traffic was rerouted around Wolcott.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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