Locals have much to learn about resort
MINTURN – As residents here wait in limbo to find out how the development of a private ski resort might impact their small town, there’s been little word from the town or developer.”I’m not afraid of the unknown, but I think a lot of citizens are,” resident Pete Vance said. “It’s a basic fear. We fear the things we aren’t aware of – disease, outer space and developers we don’t know.”The Ginn Company, a Florida-based developer, plans to build 1,700 homes, eight ski lifts and a golf course on 5,300 acres of land on and around Battle Mountain between Minturn and Red Cliff.
While company officials submitted a concept blueprint May 5 for development of 4,300 acres, little information regarding development impacts on the people of Minturn, other than economic benefits, is available. Data on possible traffic increases on U.S. Highway 24 – a major concern of citizens – is not available, although the concept blueprint claims the information is forthcoming.”There could be endless cars, trucks and construction traffic roaring down (Main Street),” said Vance, a member of watchdog group Friends of Battle Mountain.Ginn does not have to submit the traffic study until after approval of the concept plan, which could be presented to the Town Council in late June or early July. Within three months after approval, a more refined preliminary plan must be submitted. The traffic plan and school impacts are a part of the preliminary plan.”Before you come up with the final plan it’s hard to share details with people before they’re available,” Ginn spokesman Ryan Julison said.
Without information from the town or company, some residents said they’re powerless to change the development, Vance said.”I think a lot of people feel this development is going to happen with or without the input of the citizens and they feel like it’s going to get fast tracked through the development process,” Vance said. Julison insisted officials have been forthcoming, and future community meetings are being planned to share even more information with residents, he said.”We’re going to go on a very aggressive campaign to reach out the residents,” Julison said, adding that Minturnites must get involved with the campaign.”It’s up to the residents,” Julison said. “They need to take they initiative. We can’t make them come.”
The Ginn Company does a reasonable job sharing information, although the town lags, said Harry Gray, resident and owner of Harry’s Bump and Grind coffeehouse.”I think the town is less competent dispersing information than ever before,” Gray said. “The town manager believes in creating a layer between people and the government ,where in the past it’s been about government by the people for the people.”
Some residents worry an increase in property taxes due to Ginn’s development will drive out residents who can’t afford a hike in taxes.”Seniors think they won’t be able to pay their taxes and will have to leave,” said Darla Goodell, resident and owner of the Turntable restaurant. “Where are we going to go? Old people shouldn’t have to say that.”Still, property values and taxes have been rising in Minturn without influence from the Ginn development, Gray said.”People are getting pushed out as we speak,” Gray said. “To say the Ginn group is going to make it so people won’t be able to afford to live here is a little silly. High prices are already here.”
Regardless of the Ginn project, Minturn is going to change, Gray said. Change, or losing what many residents call Minturn’s “small-town character,” is a concern among most.”If they drive away locals and old people, they’re driving away the town’s spirit,” Goodell said. “If we turn into the same thing as everybody else, why would anybody want to come here.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or email@example.com.
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