Will resort developer deliver in Minturn?
Aspen, CO Colorado
MINTURN, Colo. ” The cracks in the Minturn’s sidewalks show just one of the many problems of a town in desparate need of repair, Liz Campbell said.
“If people are coming into town, they should be able to walk the streets without breaking their legs,” said Campbell, Minturn resident for 13 years.
There is no sidewalk along some of Highway 24 and that makes the walk to Little Beach Park a dangerous one for her young children.
Some residents like Campbell think that tax revenue from the Ginn Development Co., which wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums and a private ski resort and golf course, could go toward improving the tiny town near Vail.
The town could get $6 million in surplus tax revenue in Ginn’s second year, according to Ginn. Residents said that money could be used to improve a town whose water often is shut off and whose Main Street is constantly being repaired due to significant water leaks from old service lines.
“Obviously he’s in a position to help,” Campbell said about Ginn. “He’s got a tremendous amount of resources. No one’s cared too much about Minturn before the Ginn Corporation.”
Rebecca Dunn, of Minturn, wonders when the annoying water leaks will stop. And she’s tired of looking at the pile of dirt across the street from her home where the old town hall used to sit before the town demolished it two months ago.
“When is Minturn going to get the money to do the necessary things?” Dunn said.
Minturn has been “pinching pennies” for about a century now, said Michael Gallagher, Minturn resident and former town councilor. Ginn has shown a willingness to give to the town so far, and that bodes well for the future, said Gallagher, who also consults for Ginn.
“They’re not finished yet,” Gallagher said. “Ginn is going to be giving to this town forever. Once they are in the town, the tax revenue is going to be just phenonmenal and then the town can build what the town wants.”
Ginn taxes would contribute millions in revenue to the town at little expense to Minturn, Ginn representatives have said.
That money could be used for basketball courts and ponds stocked with fish for kids, said Lynn Kanakis, Minturn resident for 48 years.
But the proposed cleanup of the contaminated mine waste is the most important contribution from Ginn, he said. The cleanup would make those places safe for people and would remove some of the zinc (which kills fish) released into the Eagle River at no cost to taxpayers.
“I think they’re doing a good job,” said Kanakis, who used to work at the Gilman mine. “That cleanup is a big deal.”
Ginn also wants to build a new wastewater treatment plant ” estimated to cost $735,000 ” for Minturn and Ginn’s property ” also at no cost to taxpayers.
“We’ve agreed to a wastewater treatment plant regardless of the annexation,” said Bill Weber, Ginn’s senior vice president.
If Ginn builds the plant, the town would gain additional rights to water, officials said.
With all of Ginn’s promises, residents wonder whether Ginn will deliver.
Dunn wonders whether Ginn would eventually take away the season passes it has promised. At one time, Vail Resorts had a pass program for children that the company took away, she said.
“After they’ve romanced you, they kind of don’t feel the need to continue,” Dunn said about “corporate America.”
Vail Resorts offered a free ski pass to children enrolled in the Eagle County School District for a brief time in the early 1960s, Vail Resorts spokeswoman Jen Brown wrote in an e-mail.
Minturn skiers and golfers will be able to buy $50 season pass that would allow them to use Ginn’s proposed private ski resort and golf course for at least 30 days each year.
“Is that going to end or is it something that our children are going to have access to?” Dunn said.
Weber said he did not know whether Ginn was offering the pass program indefinitely.
Ginn has drawn up a new plan for the pass program, which will allow people younger than 18 to ski without their parents and will change the number of days residents can ski or golf there, Weber said.
Weber declined to reveal the exact age or the number of days because town councilors had not had a chance to review the changes, he said.
Ginn has not yet committed to many of these improvements because Ginn and town councilors are working out the details, Weber said.
“Our company has a history, or a record if you will, that speaks for itself regarding improvements to the community in the towns that we’re in,” Weber said.