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 tourism, the city maintains a year-round economy.

 

In 2015, however, Eagle’s community was still not on a strong economic development track. In hopes of expanding their economy, the town had rooted their plans in a controversial commercial big box center. They had invested a lot of the community’s time, energy, and resources into the project, but the town still lacked a real sense of where it wanted to go economically. Considering these struggles, a group of local leaders from the town of Eagle attended 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. And, in addition to helping create a strategy for connecting the downtown to the river, we helped Eagle officials learn how to engage in a community process, while thinking differently about economic development.

 

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. While some wanted development along the river, others sought to preserve it as a natural area. These differing viewpoints caused difficult discussions, but it’s these many conversations that lead 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 in order to be able 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.