Editorial: Could ‘another Miller Ranch’ be built at Homestake Peak School site?
November 15, 2017
A story in the Monday, Nov. 13, Vail Daily, "Moving up at Miller Ranch," told the story of three families moving into, and through, the various types of homes available in the neighborhood. That means the project is working as intended.
Our valley could use more neighborhoods built on that model. The question, of course, is where another Miller Ranch could be located.
Here's one possible solution: The old Battle Mountain High School site in Eagle-Vail.
The deal isn't easy, but it's doable. Here's how the scheme could work:
About half of the old Battle Mountain site is owned by Eagle County Schools. The other half sits on property owned by the Colorado State Land Board. That board, which dates back to Colorado's statehood in 1876, manages thousands of acres in the state for the benefit of public schools. Land Board property can be used for agriculture, commercial activity, or, in the case of the Battle Mountain site, for direct use by school districts.
With this idea, Eagle County Schools would move the current Homestake Peak School into the portion of the old high school that sits on state property.
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The school district could then make its property available for housing. That would require the active participation of Eagle County, as well as the towns of Avon and Vail. Given the valley's current housing crunch, you'd think that would be a not-terribly-complex contract to negotiate.
The old high school once was home to several hundred students and dozens of teachers and support staff. There's already adequate water, sewer, electricity and gas to the site to support a neighborhood of several dozen homes. There's a once well-used street that leads to the half-interchange that takes people to and from Vail, and the streets that once saw dozens of school buses every day could certainly handle transit traffic into and out of the site.
Once an agreement is forged, the land could be used for a combination of rental and deed-restricted for-sale homes. The site isn't the size of Freedom Park, but it would be a good, close-to-work neighborhood for both young adults and growing families.
It would be an expensive project, but there's enough cash in the reserve funds of Vail and the county to cover costs before units are sold. The town of Vail expects to recoup all of the construction costs it covered until the Chamonix townhomes are all sold.
Again, this wouldn't be a terribly complex deal in the grand scheme of intergovernmental agreements. The deal that created the West Avon Preserve was far more complicated, and it got done. We could even use part of the football field and track for a park.
The project seems to make a lot of sense. Who will be the first elected official to seriously propose something like this?
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.
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