Around the Mountains: Liquor flows in Minturn after vote |

Around the Mountains: Liquor flows in Minturn after vote

special to the daily

MINTURN ” Developer Bobby Ginn bought drinks for locals at a Minturn bar until the liquor was gone to celebrate his victory at the polls for a private ski-area, golf and housing project. Residents by a margin of 87 percent to 13 percent last week affirmed the town’s decision to annex the large parcel of land south and east of Minturn.

Ginn’s Florida-based company now has tentative approval for 1,700 homes, from condominiums located in a former Superfund mining area along the Eagle River to mansions that are high-end in both the economic and literal sense.

Helping boost his company’s image was Ginn himself, the company’s drawling, cowboy-boot-wearing principal. The 59-year-old was in town for two weeks, and helped hump trash at the town’s community cleanup day the week before the election.

Ginn never pretended that there would be no impacts. Traffic will get worse. Housing prices are likely to rise.

But the company also agreed, in its annexation agreement, to build a recreation center, create sidewalks, and provide other amenities that Minturn, with a thin sales-tax base, could not afford.

Elsewhere in the Eagle Valley, the vote was seen as no reason for celebration.

One blogger on the Vail Daily website charged that it will turn Minturn “into a rich man’s paradise at the expense of regular folks.” Said another, bemoaning increased traffic on the town’s thin-as-a-whisp (and with no alternative routes) main street: “You made your bed Minturn, now lie in it.”

But another blogger took a longer perspective. “Mountainpilot” on the Vail Daily website said that Minturn had waited too many years to institute changes.

“There should have been a balance. Instead there was a void … and a savior has come to Minturn. Hopefully it will work out as the voters planned.”

One thing worth observing as the development moves forward is Ginn’s oft-stated promise that it will not only develop, but then operate what has now been approved.

The project at Battle Mountain will become a model for mountain resort development, says Cliff Thompson, the project’s spokesman.

The company has been studying green architecture and renewable-energy technologies.

AVON ” Students at Battle Mountain High School who participate in extracurricular activities next year will be subjected to random drug and alcohol testing. More than 75 percent of students at the school between Vail and Avon are involved in after-school activities such as sports, music and speech.

Officials with the Eagle County School District say they believe there is stronger peer-pressure in a resort area to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana.

While most of the illegal consumption is confined to weekends, some of it is happening during the school week and even occurring at the high school itself, said Mike Gass, executive director of secondary education.

Officials have noticed an increasing number of minors caught possessing alcohol.

“We are not seeing improvement. This is an attempt to change that,” said Gass.

The new policy was instigated in part by parents, some of whom have designated “safe” homes, where alcohol will not be provided. The program will not be unique.

One other high school in Colorado, Ignacio, located in the state’s southwest corner, has had drug and alcohol testing for 10 years. Eagle County school officials have also communicated with counterparts at schools in Georgia. Because of its proximity to the Vail and Beaver Creek-based tourism economy, Battle Mountain has long had a reputation as a place of greater drug and alcohol use. Greater transience is also part of the story, says Gass.

No drug testing, however, will be done at Eagle Valley High School, located at Gypsum, about 30 miles west

BEAVER CREEK ” Plans for alpine slides at both the Beaver Creek and Vail ski areas are on hold. The slide at Beaver Creek proposed by the resort operator, Vail Resorts, has been blocked by homeowners, who say the noise and appearance are inappropriate for the resort.

An alpine coaster on Vail Mountain also is on the back burner at U.S. Forest Service offices, as agency employees pay attention first to proposals for new chairlifts and snowmaking.

That coaster would have steel rails that carry two-person sleds on a 3,000-foot track at Adventure Ridge, the mountain-top entertainment complex. Night tubing and other amusements are also offered at the center, which is located at the top of the gondola.

The Vail plan is something of a low-level battle ground for competing ideologies about how public lands should be used. Colorado Wild, an activist group, objects to the coaster as an “urban-type recreation.”

Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade group of which Vail Resorts had been a dominant member until its departure earlier this week, argues that the coaster “will appeal to a broader, youthful population and get more kids ‘in the woods.'”

That is a reference to the book called “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”

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