Eagle, Colorado

Connecting the Heart of Eagle to the Soul of the River

Eagle, Colorado  |   2014

Project Details

The Challenge

Key Activities

Outcomes

Located in the Vail Valley region of Colorado, the town of Eagle attracts people to its center for the outdoor recreation opportunities that exist there. Down valley from well-known resorts Vail and Beaver Creek, Eagle has its own identity, but struggles with the market and economic dynamics of being in the resort region. While the town experiences no shortage of seasonal tourism, the city maintains a year-round economy.

In 2015, Eagle’s community was still struggling to strengthen it’s economic development after the 2008 recession. In hopes of expanding their economy, the town had rooted their plans in a controversial commercial big box center. Having invested a significant amount of the community’s time, energy, and resources into the project, the town continued to lack a clear plan for economic development. This led a group of local leaders from the town of Eagle to attend a Community Builders training. It was there that the discussion of leveraging existing community assets sparked a realization that the town had been overlooking something critical: the Eagle River.
The opportunity to connect the downtown to the Eagle River was inspiring. Fixing up the river and making it more accessible was not only good for the river itself, but also created an amenity that the community could take advantage of.

The town quickly jumped into a planning process, enlisting Community Builders for help. The partnership had both parties bringing resources to the project. We further supported Eagle officials in engaging in a community process while thinking differently about economic development, which led to our help in creating the strategy for connecting the downtown to the river.

The first step of this project was to bring together a group of community leaders to help empower the town and key people within it. Working with that group, we designed a public engagement process that began with visioning and goal creation to drive the project forward. While the community in Eagle agreed to embrace the river, there were differing viewpoints on how this should be done. Some wanted development along the river, while others sought to preserve it as a natural area. These differing viewpoints caused difficult discussions, but the community dialogue led to common ground. From there, we engaged the town and community members in multiple design workshops to create specific opportunities for what would become the Eagle River Park. 

With the plan finalized, the voters overwhelmingly passed a sales tax to fund the $5.8 million implementation of the Eagle River Park. The 4.3 acre park has since been built and sits right off of Interstate 70, beckoning drivers to stop and enjoy. The project has provided a new trajectory for economic development for the town of Eagle—one that invests in existing assets to create an even greater community.

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