Eagle County should help fund El Jebel’s Crown Mountain Park
August 9, 2005
Is anyone else disturbed to hear officials from the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District saying they need $500,000 from Eagle County before they can build a park in El Jebel? After all, they’ve got more than $5 million in voter-approved funds and little to show for it. They have yet to sod a single field, build a single picnic shelter, plant a single tree. But first impressions can sometimes be wrong, and this appears to be one of those times. Eagle County should step forward and cover the $500,000 shortfall so local residents can have the park they were promised.Officials at the park and recreation district partly blame the delay on Eagle County’s lengthy review process. It makes sense that the county has carefully reviewed the park – remember the 2001 death of Jamie Close, the 10-year-old Carbondale boy who died after being crushed by a piece of the county’s makeshift skateboard park at the Sopris Tree Farm.Now, nearly three years after voters approved creation of the park and recreation district and its development, Crown Mountain officials find themselves with approvals in hand but not enough cash to cover the fields, courts and more passive amenities promised for the first phase of the project.It’s easy to see why the park and recreation district is finding things more expensive than expected – the skyrocketing price of fuel has boosted the cost of any construction venture. And builders are hardly desperate for work this summer.Eagle County should step up and give residents the park they thought they were funding in the November 2002 election. That park includes ball fields, tennis courts, a basketball court, picnic areas, a doggie park and a concessions building.Even with a generous donation from Eagle County, taxpayers in the Roaring Fork Valley would be covering more than 90 percent of the construction costs for this first phase of development. And the fact is Eagle County has shown a willingness to cover costs for recreational facilities, the Eagle County Fairgrounds for instance, that are located between Gypsum and Avon, where most county residents live.Western Eagle County has grown rapidly in recent years, thanks in large part to county government’s approval of large-scale residential developments. The park and recreation district’s request is an opportunity for Eagle County to improve the quality of life for all those new residents.The Eagle County commissioners should approve a $500,000 supplement to the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District’s budget so the park we’ve all been waiting (too long) for can finally be built.