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Letters to the editor

Fredric Butler

To put the pending Red Mountain Ranch application into a historical perspective as visualized by past town of Eagle staff/manager members, Mr. Lapin’s application seemingly fits all town, local and community master plans and is in keeping with the smalltown profile for which we all supposedly strive. Ergo, staff/management’s reluctance to oppose is the “staff of life” for the success of the RMR project irrespective of the sentiments of the vast majority of Eagle residents, including the populous of its environs.To somewhat discern the historical mindset of the town staff/manager, it is appropriate to look back at past development projects that were presented to town staff/management for its august input, and which were denied or rejected either by the aggressive adversity fomented by staff/management or via its inaction. To name a few of which I am aware and come to mind: — The Adam’s Rib application process through both the county and town presented an opportunity for the town to expand its “small Western town” vision south and for some distance up the Brush Creek Valley, had only staff/management (and indirectly, the council) been more perceptive of its obvious benefits to the town, e.g. not located in the immediate approaches to the Eagle, water rights acquisition, planning and zoning authority, low density residential clusters, sales and bed tax revenues derived from a small upscale hotel (not a “big box”) planned for Frost Creek, open space and wildlife mitigation protection, and close proximity to the CBD of old Eagle. Ergo, staff/management is on the record on numerous occasions opposing the many applications of HBE over the years, since the plan did not fit its (staff/manager’s) construct of a community master plan. — The airport/Gateway project presented an opportunity that was “pregnant” with financial rewards (as we now see Gypsum realizing), what with its tax potential both at the industrial park and the airport. Had staff/management and the town pursued the matter aggressively, either by direct annexation to the town or via service provider agreements, the town would not find itself in the dire financial condition that we are now led to believe. For some rationalized reasoning, staff/management did not feel that it was in the town’s best interest, albeit the zoning and infrastructure was basically approved and/or in place, the demographics were favorable, and the proposed acquisition would have had very little impact on the smalltown image that Eagle was endeavoring to maintain; i.e., CDOT would someday build an interchange directly to the industrial/airport area rather that and an additional one just east of Eagle.– The CBD’s 25-year endeavors to improve its infrastructure, which would have enticed greater business development that would be compatible with its “Mayberry” image and casual lifestyle. Only recently have the business owners of the CBD been able to attract the attention of staff/management regarding such improvements. And this only as a result of a change in the complexion of the town Board of Trustees and the formation of a CBD committee to represent the business owners in confronting their other representatives (the town staff/management) to deal with the issue. Heretofore, the CBD has been the lost stepchild in the eyes of staff and management on this score. Had these improvements been made years before, more sales tax revenues from the CBD would be flowing into the town’s treasury as we speak.The town/staff group is now once again confronted with a momentous application (RMR) that would have an impact on the Eagle area as a whole, and in particular its stepchild (the CBD). Phoenix has arisen, and apparently with it, “the staff of life”; ergo, staff/management has been conspicuously silent in its adversity to this project.Query, is staff/management in favor of the application as submitted? Have prior commitments or encouragement to this developer been made by management or council members? Or has staff/management found a new “master plan” that makes a “big box” fit in lieu of the criteria that it found objectionable for the Adam’s Rib project; e.g. green belt, wildlife mitigation, etc? Where is the vociferous opposition from the town manager on this application? Why doesn’t the manager and staff actively pursue the only viable alternative, the Gateway venue with its ideal location and concomitant tax-sharing feature? Other than from the concerned citizens in opposition to this proposed project, I have heard no opposition from staff/management regarding the sales tax rebate and subsidy to this developer to aid him in defraying a sizable portion of his costs; viz., Eagle Ranch and the owners and developers in the CBD have not been considered for a “perk” such as this. The Planning and Zoning Board for the town had no trouble discerning that “a little town does not fit in a big box.” However, the developer, from his vicarious and distant observation, certainly feels that a big box fits in our small town at the location in question. The bottom line is that were the town to approve this project, its action in doing so would be consistent with the inimical, arbitrary, historical and demonstrated visions of staff/management, and certainly not pursuant to any known “master plan” other than that of the developer.Fredric Butler GenocideMatt Zalaznick’s editorial “Ignoring genocide” in Wednesday’s Vail Daily was a stroke of brilliance. In a place where tulip-browsing deer generate more hand-wringing than ethnic cleansing, it’s about time we get some perspective. We have it so good in this country, and have had for so long, that we forget (or never knew) the taste of hardship that others suffer. The stories of Holocaust families that have run in the paper this week are not fairy tales – they are powerful and real. The same stories could be told from the Rwanda of 11 years ago. Those of you who weren’t watching the usual network tripe Wednesday night, and caught the excellent HBO movie on PBS, “Sometimes in April,” saw a glimpse of the horrors that occurred there. And now there is Darfur. Somewhere in the hundreds of thousands, depending on whose numbers you use, raped, bludgeoned and murdered. George Santayana was sure right when he said, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s going on a year now since both houses of Congress officially declared that genocide had occurred and was occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. In case you thought you might have missed it, a lot of bureaucratic lip service has been paid to the issue, but nothing of substance has happened since then.In the end though, I have to agree with the conclusion of Matt’s editorial: It’s not the politicians’ fault. After all, who are they but a reflection of us? Political will comes from the people. It’s up to us to create it. Peter BrandesEagleInterestingI don’t know if any of you caught the live talk show Thursday night on the radio 97.7, The Zephyr. It was supposed to be an interview between Jan Rosenthal and Merv Lapin regarding the controversial Red Mountain Ranch project. Jan is part of an organization opposing the project, and Merv Lapin is the developer proposing 450,000 square feet of big box retail just east of Eagle. Well, Merv didn’t show up, and he sent his new consultant, Bill Clinkenberg, who couldn’t answer several questions because, as he put it, “I don’t know, because I’ve only been with Merv for two months.” I find this very interesting.What was also quite interesting was the common denominator of what Ms. Rosenthal was saying and what was said at the special Eagle Town Board meeting Thursday night regarding the supposed “economic windfall” to the town of Eagle from this project. It was said by Jan in the interview and by many of the Town Board members: How can you speak to the numbers if we don’t know who the anchor is? And, besides that, it is all speculative until the project is done. {There are no guarantees it will even fly or that it won’t “go dark” once it does get built.}I say we have a Super Wal-Mart in Avon, a Target in Glenwood Springs, and the price of gas expected to continue to climb. Where are all these people going to come from to shop in Eagle? Is regional retail realistic anymore? And the contention that people coming to the big box will go shop in downtown Eagle afterwards is unrealistic, if not comical. Once they’ve shopped at Red Mountain Ranch and grabbed a bit to eat there, it’s time to hit the highway the easy way – onto the interchange. If people are buying perishables, amongst other things at a big box store, why the heck would they drive to downtown afterwards? Result: The demise of downtown Eagle.One more thing: Hat’s off to the Eagle Town Board for unanimously telling Merv that they did not agree with any revenue sharing. The Eagle Town Board has not given money to any other development projects around Eagle. Why should they start a bad precedent now?Annie EganVail, Colorado


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