Facts about the Ginn project | VailDaily.com

Facts about the Ginn project

County Commissioners Peter Runyon, Sara Fisher and Arn Menconi
Vail CO, Colorado

A recent commentary written by Don Rogers addressed potential impacts of the development that has been proposed near Minturn by the Ginn Co. Mr. Rogers specifically addresses impacts related to traffic, housing needs and the number of new employees that would be required as a result of the development.

We at Eagle County agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Rogers that the developer should be held accountable to the adverse impacts of the development. However, he made several statements that warrant clarification or correction.

County input

First, the Town of Minturn asked the county to review the Ginn proposal. Towns typically provide development proposals to the county and ask for our comments. Similarly, Eagle County’s practice is to provide a copy of any application we receive for a proposed development to any of the towns that might be impacted if the development were to be approved. They provide us with comments that would be helpful in the review. In our review of the Ginn proposal we addressed the same sorts of issues that we would consider in reviewing a proposal of this magnitude that might be proposed in unincorporated Eagle County.

Our staff response was comprehensive and professional. It was based entirely on the information available to the county at the time. Our response to the town does not reflect the benefit of any additional information that may have been provided to the town by the Ginn Company subsequent to the initial preliminary plan application.

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The impacts

The proposed Battle Mountain development would have significant impacts on the Town of Minturn and on all of Eagle County, even beyond those noted by Mr. Rogers. Nonetheless, Mr. Rogers noted three specific sets of impacts. Traffic would increase on roadways. The supply of workforce housing would be stretched even further than it is already. Given the increasing difficulty in enticing people in neighboring counties to commute significant distances to work in Eagle County, the number of new employees required as a result of this development becomes a significant factor. This development proposal warrants a very thorough review by the Town of Minturn, and the town is to be commended for the approach it has taken.

Traffic impacts and affordable workforce housing are very important and complex issues. Consequently, at our own expense, Eagle County hired the firm of Fox Higgins Transportation Group, LLC, to independently review the traffic impact analysis included in the preliminary plan application. The traffic engineers at Fox Higgins expressed “significant concerns” about how traffic is being predicted and the lack of bicycle and pedestrian paths. As traffic in the town and the rest of the valley becomes increasingly difficult and expensive to accommodate, we continue to encourage the development of sound, effective long-term solutions.

Eagle County also hired RRC Associates, a firm with extensive experience in analyzing housing needs in Colorado and elsewhere, to analyze the Ginn Co.’s housing report. RRC Associates was given complete latitude to reach their own conclusions. The county provided only one such study prepared by RRC Associates to the town, rather than the three such studies referred to by Mr. Rogers. If this study is “wildly at odds with Ginn’s studies,” as Mr. Rogers states, then there may well be good reason for the town to carefully consider both Mr. Ginn’s housing report and the RRC study and come to its own conclusions about whether there is enough affordable workforce housing planned.

Worker numbers

Mr. Rogers is also apparently under the impression that when Eagle County staff analyzed the number of new employees that would result from the proposed development, we compared the proposed development, as a private resort, to public resorts such as Vail or Beaver Creek. This is not the case at all. No employment information for any other type of employer, resort or otherwise, public or private, was included in our analysis. Our estimates of total employment, both direct and indirect, are based solely on information provided by Mr. Ginn.

The preliminary plan application states that employment at the resort would be 776 full-time equivalent employees. It also provides enough detail to allow us to easily convert this to 1,163 employees, some of whom would be part time. The preliminary plan application is lacking information regarding either the number of construction workers who would be employed during the 20-year build-out or the number of new employees who would be indirectly employed elsewhere in the community (e.g., in stores, restaurants and so on) as a result of the direct employment at the resort. So we turned to the economic impact report submitted by Mr. Ginn to the town in January 2006 as part of the annexation application. It includes an estimate of construction employment of 1,264 employees. Using those numbers and the “regional multiplier” also provided by Mr. Ginn in his economic impact report to determine indirect employment, we calculated an estimate of 3,509 new direct and indirect employees.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Ginn’s economic impact report includes similar estimates of total direct and indirect employment. It includes an earlier estimate of 970 direct, permanent employees at the resort at build-out and 1,264 directly employed in construction. Using the same formula to estimate indirect employment, Mr. Ginn estimated total new direct and indirect employment of 3,841, somewhat higher than the Eagle County estimate of 3,509.

Just the facts

The numbers speak for themselves. No lies. No misunderstandings. No scare tactics. No hostility. No basis for indignation. We have merely used information provided by Mr. Ginn to complete the employment forecast that he could have provided himself in his preliminary plan application. We continue to encourage the Town of Minturn to carefully consider all of the impacts of the proposed development as well as the most effective ways to avoid or mitigate those impacts. And we continue to encourage the elected and appointed officials to make their decisions based on what best serves the town, its citizens and others in the community who would also live with the consequences.

E-mail comments about this column to editor@vaildaily.com.

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