Letters to the Editor
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO Center not needed Eagle River Station, the large development proposed for the ranchland to the east of Chambers Avenue in Eagle, needs to be considered in the broad terms of what it is and why it should be. It is a million-plus-square-foot project that has at its core a giant commercial center consisting of two large-format retail stores surrounded by smaller stores and restaurants of a regional variety. There is also a private Christian school included in the plans, a hotel, and 580 residential units to house some of the workers it will take to run the project. In speaking about the primary commercial component of the project, there are three main reasons a community would seek out and wish for a large project like this: jobs, sales tax revenue, and shopping amenities. In relative scale, jobs are 40 percent of the reasons to wish for this type of project; they are principal and key to the “why” of these developments. Tax revenue is another 40 percent; it is a like critical component along with jobs to the desirability of a big commercial project. The amenities provided by the venture are 20 percent of the “why” reasons; although considered important, they can be gotten someplace else, and are usually not critical for the community to succeed. So why would Eagle need Eagle River Station?Jobs. Communities that seek out projects like ERS are typically economically depressed communities that have a high unemployment rate and need to put their people to work. Eagle does not have a high unemployment rate. In fact, it is the opposite. Business owners all over town and the valley are begging for employees. Existing businesses are overworked and understaffed. Adding to this burden, ERS will need 2000 workers to run it. It is hard to envision an overworked community seeking more work.Sales tax revenue. What are the revenues that ERS will bring Eagle? In their draft service proposal, ERS divides the sales tax revenue it achieves with the town of Eagle at a 75 percent ERS cut to a 25 percent Eagle cut for a period of 25 years. The ERS 75 percent goes to the developers to pay for the creation of the ERS infrastructure. Compare this sales tax cut to what Gypsum gave Costco, which is a 35 percent break for three years, and it turns out that ERS is asking for twice as big a sales tax break for eight times as long as the Costco/Gypsum arraignment. ERS has estimated the 25 percent revenue share it will give Eagle to be $2,000,000 +/- per year, if the new commercial center achieves full or near-full shopping capacity. In light of the under-shopped Glenwood Meadows and Traer Creek shopping centers to the west and east of Eagle, it is doubtful ERS will sell at capacity for many years. Realistically, Eagle will receive from ERS significantly less than $2,000,000/year. Then, out of this revenue, the town of Eagle will assume and pay for maintenance of the ERS streets, signage, and park space. Out of this revenue the town will have to hire new policemen because of the criminal and traffic burden ERS will bring. Out of this revenue the town of Eagle will have to take care of 1,700 new inhabitants that the ERS housing component will add. In net terms, there is very little sales tax revenue Eagle will receive from the ERS project.The amenities. Shopping is good. It is what many folks in the community want to do. They don’t want to have to drive far to buy what they need for their day-to-day life. So it is hard to take this away from ERS, except to say that with proper infill of the already existing commercial areas in Eagle or the expansion of the downtown central business district many of these amenities can be achieved by an in-house manner.So why consider Eagle River Station, why would the community want it? It can’t be for jobs, because the community does not need jobs. Broadly speaking, that takes away 40 percent of the reason to want ERS. It would be hard to imagine approving a project of this size when this major reason to want it does not exist.It can’t be for the sales tax revenue, because the revenue realized will be paltry. Why would a project be desired on the basis of revenue when most of that revenue will go back into maintaining the project? The sales tax benefit is a wash or minimal at best.It could be for the 20 percent reason of the amenities, this project will provide them-but really, would you rather eat at an Appleby’s or at a good locally owned restaurant staffed by people who have a personality instead of a nametag?A community should think very hard and long about doing a project when 40 percent of the reasons to do it are not there. The project should certainly not be considered when 70-80 percent of the reasons in favor of it don’t exist. Why would you consider altering the face, the character, and the population of a town irrevocably for almost no reason – unless you wanted a different town.Dave EckardtEagle
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