Vail’s hard-luck neighbor may be on the verge of a comeback
MINTURN – This blue-collar Colorado mountain town has been on the wrong side of the tracks ever since Vail opened nearby in 1962.While Vail prospered as a ski resort and magnet for the rich and famous, Minturn hit hard times. Its biggest employer closed, its government nearly plunged into bankruptcy and it lost precious water rights to neighbors because it wasn’t using them.But Minturn may be on the verge of a comeback. Developer Bobby Ginn envisions a members-only ski and golf resort and 1,700 new homes – triple the number there now. He is wooing residents with visions of new sidewalks, street lamps and a water treatment plant that would even entitle the town to get back some of the water rights.”I love Minturn. I’ve wanted to do this for 15 years, said Ginn, president and CEO of Florida-based Ginn Clubs & Resorts.Ginn wants the town of 1,200 to annex his site on Battle Mountain south of town.Annexation is the best way for Ginn to secure water and infrastructure for his development. Under terms of a court settlement, if Minturn builds a water treatment plant it can reclaim its lost water rights.
For Minturn, the deal also offers money and jobs. Tax revenues would go up, though no estimates were available. Ginn projects the development would create 1,000 year-round jobs and generate retail business for Minturn.Ginn Clubs will operate the resort, which would have 1,100 acres of skiable terrain, as well as build it. “Our commitment to the community is a forever operation, not just until build-out,” he said.The company hasn’t set its prices. At the Yellowstone Club, a members-only ski resort in Montana, home sites start at $1.1 million, membership requires a $250,000 deposit and annual dues are $16,000.Ginn will outline his plan to Minturn residents at a meeting Wednesday.Minturn is barely four miles from Vail, but while the famous ski town blossomed, Minturn decayed. It lost its main employer, the New Jersey Zinc Co.’s Gilman mine, in the 80s. Then the Union Pacific Railroad stopped service in the 90s.Despite its problems, Minturn has always been a bit suspicious of development; the town recently rejected a proposal for a large RV park. But the Town Council authorized Town Manager Ann Capela to discuss annexation with Ginn.
“It certainly puts the town in an excellent position to get new infrastructure,” said Capela, whose desk is held up on one end by a small block of wood.Town Councilman Bill Burnett, 84, who helped build Vail, has seen development schemes come and go. “Somebody’s going to develop that land. I’m glad to see Minturn is in on it. We can’t sit still and let other people develop ,” said he said.The plan has strong support from local businesses.”I know it’s good for Minturn. We need it. If something doesn’t happen soon I can’t stay in business,” said Georgette VanBuren, owner of the Eagle River Trading Co. souvenir and gift shop.Liz Campbell, a Minturn resident who is education and outreach coordinator for the Bravo Vail Valley Musical Festival, said Minturn businesses are suffering and the town is being overwhelmed by its upscale neighbors.”We are being swallowed up by Vail and Beaver Creek and something has got to change,” she said.
Anthony Aiello worries the development will change Minturn’s character and bring too much traffic. Main Street is already awash in commuters driving from their homes in Leadville to their jobs in Vail and Beaver Creek.”In the morning we don’t need an alarm clock with all the traffic. You can’t get out of your driveway,” he said.”I’ve heard Bobby Ginn is a good guy but my town is never going to be the same. And we were the last town in Eagle County to have a unique character,” said Aiello.—On the Net:http://www.ginncompany.com/default-.asp
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