Key election for Minturn
Outside observers can cluck about letting a developer metastasize little Minturn up and over Battle Mountain clear to Red Cliff.
But if you live in the tiny, impoverished town, the crystal ball is not quite so clear.
No community ” save perhaps Red Cliff ” needs an infusion of revenue more than Minturn. And developer Bobby Ginn promises plenty with his plans to build a private golf course and ski resort, along with 1,700 homes. Today, the old town’s population today barely crests 1,000.
No less than municipal rejuvenation is on tap here, not to mention further cleanup around a Superfund site, and the abandoned mining town of Gilman returning to a habitable neighborhood. The old town that cannot afford to repair sidewalks and streets is poised to provide big-time for its residents.
Besides, as every candidate points out, all those 5,400 acres we’re talking about are private property. Development seems inevitable, so might as well take as much advantage of that as possible.
These acres also happen to include some of Eagle County’s prettiest country. This is quintessential open space, and the question looming over Minturn is whether it should be annexed into the town.
Every candidate for the Minturn Town Council clearly favors annexing “Ginnturn,” if sounding a little more wary about the size of the development to come. This is no Eagle, which fought developer Fred Kummer and his plans for a ski resort for decades. Nor is it Wolf Creek, trying now to fend off development at their ski resort.
The conversation among Minturn’s candidates dwells on what the town can extract from the developer rather than the costs of servicing a giant extension of town. Hey, at least this discussion is about what the developer gives, unlike Avon thinking it must subsidize large projects.
There are other issues in Minturn ” parking, traffic, local business. But the development dwarfs them, of course.
The lineup of candidates for the council and mayor includes no Roxie Deane ” the mayor of Eagle who didn’t just say “no” to mega development that appeared inevitable outside her town, but “hell no.” Any such sentiment in Minturn will have to surface in a referendum, because it won’t come from the town’s leadership.
That said, we like the candidates. We found them friendly, thoughtful and committed to their community. All would be worthy representatives, as they themselves expressed in their candidate forum and to the paper’s editorial board. The differences in their views are shades of the same color rather than bold differences.
The question really is who will best deal with Ginn with long-term foresight, firmness and frank wisdom. Among the council candidates, Shelley Bellm and Kelly Brinkerhoff show the most of these qualities. Brinkerhoff offers her experience as an attorney negotiating large contracts in addition to a well-articulated vision for Minturn’s future that’s needed on the council. Bellm, married into one of Minturn’s vintage families, strikes us as strong-minded and fiercely loyal to her community’s best interests. Both these women would be a genuine force on the council.
Floyd Duran, who has served on the council and worked for the town in the past, offers the best combination of energy, knowledge and long view of the rest of the field. We caution that going to work for Ginn is reason to not serve. This council has enough personal ties to the developer as it is.
Bill Burnett is delightful, no question, and still has plenty to give of himself to the town. Kristi Bloodworth also offers attorney skills. And David Clapp shows the most skepticism about Ginn and concern for the environment in and around Minturn ” even if his experience with town governance is sparse.
For mayor, Councilman George Brodin and incumbent Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty share views but not personalities or Flaherty’s encumbrances. Flaherty cannot cast key votes on the council because he has conflicts from serving on the Eagle River Water and Sanitation Board. And he cannot cast key votes on the water board because he has conflicts from serving on the town council. He also faces town charges for arguing in town court on behalf of a friend ” a misdemeanor that would cost him his post as mayor if found guilty.
It’s time for some new direction and a fresh face in the mayoral chair as Minturn confronts its new age. Brodin is up to the challenge, and free of what hobbles Flaherty. No local politician should serve on two elected boards simultaneously, in our view.
Whoever is picked in Tuesday’s election, they need to think carefully about how to preserve the community in the face of a developer who aims to grow the Minturn community beyond recognition.
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