The Eagle Chamber of Commerce welcomed Eagle’s new Town Manager, John Schneiger, at a special breakfast meeting, Tuesday June 7 at the Eagle Ranch Golf Club.
Mick Daly, president of the Eagle Chamber, invited Mr. Schneiger to meet members of the business community, and to listen to attendees’ comments and suggestions regarding Eagle and how this great mountain town can be made better.
The thirty-five attendees were divided into groups and asked to discuss the following questions; then report back to Mr. Schneiger and the larger group.
(1) What is the best thing about living and working in Eagle (or the Eagle Valley)?
(2) If you could change one thing about the Town of Eagle, what would that be? What impact would that have on your business?
(3) Name the most important that the Town of Eagle can do to help you and how will it help to grow your business?
(4) What should the Town of Eagle do to ensure your business benefits from the Eagle River Park project? How will you benefit?
Feedback from the Groups:
• Housing o Affordable … high priority
o Need developer incentives
o Live/Work model – mixed use
• Marketing Focus (Brand)
o Support mountain entrepreneurs
o Events and programs that sell the town/quality of life, attract visitors and residents
o Build pride and encourage high standards from all (from staff to business owners to residents)
o Signage to support our Brand
• Attractive (Safe, and Healthy) Eagle
o Hwy 6 entry to town – redevelopment needed
o Better signage for way-finding
o Pedestrian safety at new roundabouts – unrecognized issue (but big)
• Economic Development
o Need a true, focused E/D effort
o Stimulate new jobs
o Support smart growth
o Fill empty commercial space
• Strategic Growth (to reach a new Vision)
o Population, Community, Jobs, Infrastructure, Economy, Amenities, etc.
o all aligned with revenue growth
• Town Hall Culture – Professionalism
o Staff attitude – be more welcoming and helpful to people and businesses
o Layout confusing – long hall, where to go?
o Higher priority on customer service
o How can we say yes (‘no’ is the last option)
o Staff Leadership and TBoT – increase professionalism ahead of population growth
John Schneiger’s comments (not verbatim):
I’m very much aware of the housing issue having experienced it in my recent move to Eagle. We met with the developer of the Haymeadow project and they will apply for a modification to their Planned Unit Development (PUD) project to reduce the number of single-family units originally planned and look to smaller or affordable units.
The town needs to improve its organizational infrastructure, as well as ensuring that there is adequate staff with staff in the right positions. Efforts need to be made to improving communication and team-work between departments and the staff of 45 needs to be worked on. We also need to decide on the what the desired organizational culture and then work in that direction.
The town’s budget process needs updating to include periodic financial reports that will ensure that the Board of Trustees know where the town stands financially throughout the year.
Economic development and smart growth happens when there is a coordinated partnership between the town and developers. My philosophy is that Community development be more problem solvers and less regulators.
The twenty-eight annual special events planned for 2016 are great for the town, but the growth in numbers (from 5 per year) has caused the police department and public works to lag behind in fulfilling their responsibilities; all of which I hope we can address in the near future.
The professionalism of town staff and how we work with the public is an important issue as Eagle continues to grow. We successfully dealt with this issue when I was City Manager of Montrose. I believe we need to make this a priority in Eagle.
The town needs to plan how to fund many needed improvements. For example, Public Works has indicated that it will need $600,000 annually for street improvements. How to fund this type of expenditure will be challenging.
The Eagle River Park will be a great town asset and funding will require outside funding of all kinds. A Citizens Committee will be formed to assist in securing those private dollars.
The town can’t be everything to everybody. The town needs to slow down in order to move forward. I’m a strong believer in having a strong partnership with the Chamber of Commerce to help determine economic development priorities and to stimulate new projects and move the town forward.