Vail Daily letter: River park a benefit
Some opponents of the proposed Eagle water park think that the project is being rushed forward, but I think there is a hurry of sorts. This project was first proposed in the ’90s by Darryl Bangert, owner of a local rafting company, and it went nowhere. But Darryl’s vision later led to the creation of many public access points along the Upper Colorado River, which are now a tangible benefit to people of this valley.
Lori Russell and I went in front of the town of Eagle board in 2003 with a presentation of a whitewater park at the fairgrounds and it was kind of like we were talking Chinese. We proposed it to the Eagle County commissioners later and the reception was much better. With Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon in favor of the project and with the county having control of the riverbed because of ownership of the irrigation ditch that starts there, prospects for the project looked good. With the advent of the Great Recession and the drying up of funds, the project died. So now it is 15 years or so later, and for much of that time I and many other valley river enthusiasts have been driving long distances elsewhere to get our wave fix, most notably Glenwood Springs. That’s a lot of time and a lot of gas. And upon each return to Eagle from Glenwood, we look over at the festering river at the CDOT parking lot and wonder, “What if … ?”
Currently, the assistant town planner for Eagle is an accomplished kayaker that is versed in whitewater park mechanics. His father was instrumental in having Glenwood get its wave, and knows all about funding and the values of recreation to a community. What if this town planner were to move on to another job elsewhere?
To attain grants and other forms of funding, the town of Eagle needs to put up some of its own money, which the sales tax increase would provide.
The potential four-laning of Highway 6 might cut off the river more from town, but who walks from old town to the river now anyhow? Most access will be from the north of the river for some time to come. If at one point town develops out between the Highway 6 and the river and whether there are four lanes or two, clearly there will be a roundabout at Broadway providing ready access to the south side of the river. If the water park were a reality, a future Highway 6 would be better planned.
In the upcoming election, a new town of Eagle board could be elected that is more mall friendly than recreation friendly.
There is presently a chance to turn a neglected eyesore into a pleasurable recreational benefit. What do you like to do when the thermometer hits 90? Get to the river, of course.