Vail Daily column: Big steps for Eagle-Vail
Compared to 2015, Eagle-Vail was a very different community in 2005. Parks and play structures were in marginal condition; the old swimming pool was failing; golf facilities lacked recent investment; the general appearance of the community reflected self-neglect. The community suffered from having no real management and long-term planning. Eagle-Vail’s main assets were built and contributed by the original developer long ago, so the community that evolved around them had no experience with constructing large assets. In 2005, little planning had been done for major repairs and replacement of facilities, even as they were approaching 30-year and 40-year milestones in their service to Eagle-Vail.
As the old outdoor swimming pool reached the end of its service life, it became clear to many that Eagle-Vail was nearing a crossroads and needed to make decisions about its future. The community could try to get by on simply the appeal of its location between the world-class resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek. Or, we could harness the talents and energy of owners and residents within Eagle-Vail to actively plan and manage its future.
An opportunity became apparent as the question was being asked about whether or not to replace the pool. Instead of simply replacing the existing facility, we had the opportunity to think deeply about what should be built and how it might relate to larger long-term opportunities for Eagle-Vail.
The problem then was that no long-term vision for Eagle-Vail existed, let alone a plan. To anyone’s knowledge, no work had been done on long-term planning for Eagle-Vail since its original development began in the 1970s. At that time, Eagle-Vail was on the western edge of any development on the valley floor, Beaver Creek was still on the drawing board and the town of Avon had not yet been incorporated. The importance of doing the work of identifying the opportunities and challenges faced by Eagle-Vail and developing a vision for its future became important in properly prioritizing and locating capital projects like a new swim facility.
Developing a long-term master plan for a mature community like Eagle-Vail was a daunting task. Its unique location, assets, organizational structure, real estate profile and demographics present both significant opportunities and challenges. It was important that future plans take advantage of available opportunities to address the maintenance and replacement of several assets while not jeopardizing the attractive qualities of living or owning property in Eagle-Vail. The members of the boards of the Eagle Vail Property Owners Association and the Eagle Vail Metropolitan District project identified the need for outside expertise in moving forward. They made a bold decision to think big.
In 2007, Eagle-Vail chose to engage the Urban Land Institute, one of the highest regarded land planning and consulting organizations in the country, to assist in its effort. Despite some concern at the time that engaging the ULI was too costly, the boards recognized the challenges and opportunities facing Eagle-Vail as not only unique within Eagle County and the Vail Valley, but unique within the state and the country. It was important that outside perspectives and expertise be incorporated into the process of identifying what was possible and desirable for Eagle-Vail.
Issued in June 2008, the ULI’s study and final report were comprehensive and detailed. In addition to dozens of residents, property and business owners within Eagle-Vail, the ULI interviewed high-level representatives of neighboring and overlapping governmental organizations and local real estate, land planning and development professionals. They evaluated different options and plans before settling on recommendations they felt best enhanced the values of properties and quality of life within Eagle-Vail.
The ULI’s final recommendations focused on options that built on Eagle-Vail’s existing sense of community and increased long-term financial and environmental sustainability. Additionally, the ULI provided suggestions on prioritization of their recommendations.
Since the release of the ULI study in June 2008, the boards have regularly referred back to this study, its findings and recommendations. Many of the ULI’s recommendations have been implemented while some others are just beginning to move into planning stages.
Please be informed and involved in these discussions. A copy of the final ULI report is available on the Eagle-Vail website at http://www.Eagle-Vail.org.
Tracy Walters is vice president of the Eagle-Vail Metro District board of directors.