Citizen Spotlight: Making Battlement Mesa a better community isn’t just a job for Eric Schmela
Citizen Telegram Contributor
BATTLEMENT MESA – Eric Schmela never spent time in Battlement Mesa before he started working there seven years ago.
Nowadays, the president of the Battlement Mesa Co. has folded himself into the fabric of the community. Even though Schmela still lives with his wife, Stacey, and their three children in Carbondale, he’s deeply devoted to the Battlement Mesa community.
“I enjoy making Battlement Mesa a better place,” he said.
And that’s something his position as the master developer of the unincorporated community has only partially enabled him to do. Many of his proudest successes come from his voluntary involvement in other organizations, such as the Battlement Mesa Service Association and the boards of other homeowners associations in Battlement Mesa.
Schmela, who will turn 40 next week, volunteers his time freely at community functions and has been an active member of the Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley chapter. He has taken one of his sons with him to swing the hammer and build Habitat homes, but he’s most active as a fundraiser and in negotiating land acquisition deals for the nonprofit organization.
“That’s a very rewarding board to be a part of,” he said.
He was also appointed by the Garfield County Commissioners to the Federal Mineral Lease District Board, which administers the severance tax dollars designated for those Colorado communities most impacted by mineral extraction.
“And few communities have been more impacted than Battlement Mesa,” Schmela said.
He’s not allowed to vote on distributing funds to Battlement Mesa, because the distributions would benefit him and his community. But he does get to help administer the funds, which have helped to pay for library expansions, community center improvements and road repairs over the years.
The board recently awarded seed money to Battlement Mesa for a new park.
“I’m extremely proud of this community park project,” Schmela said. “This was very much a collaborative effort of folks in the community and the region.”
As a father of three, he said he enjoyed envisioning the park with other local parents and planning it out.
“It’s a really cool park,” Schmela said. “It’s themed on local geology with a lot of cool interactive and educational ingredients mixed in.”
The Battlement Mesa Co. donated use of the golf course for a fundraising tournament Sept. 27-28. Schmela and his nine-year-old son, Carter, played to raise funds for the park.
“What rewards me most in life is my kids,” Schmela said. “Spending time with them is my favorite thing to do in life – period, end of story.”
In addition to Carter, Schmela has six-year-old boy and girl twins, Haley and Tyler.
When he moved to Aspen after college and started working random retail jobs, Schmela said he couldn’t have imagined that he would find his calling in real estate development and community building, but the valley is home and the Battlement Mesa Co., where Schmela has been president since 2006, is an exciting place to work.
“Professionally, this is a unique opportunity to be the master developer of a community that offers so much to its residents in an area that can be so impacted by changes in the natural resource markets,” Schmela said.
But his relationship with the community isn’t just professional these days. Even though he never spent time in Battlement Mesa before he started working there, the investment of his time and emotions since have made it something of a home away from home.
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