Making room for workers in Minturn
Vail, CO Colorado
MINTURN ” David Clapp hopes that the private ski resort south of town, if it’s built, provides adequate housing for its employees ” so does Eagle County.
“There’s not really any way to get more people in this town,” said Clapp, a Minturn resident who ran for town council last year.
The Ginn Development Co. pledges to house 40 percent of its employees, a step up from other developers in the area, the company says.
However, disagreement exists as to the number of employees the development will spawn.
Along with a private ski resort and golf course, Ginn wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums on and around Battle Mountain south of Minturn. Employee housing is not included in that figure, but Ginn wants to build 130 to 170 units for employees, said Dominic Mauriello, planner for Ginn.
Based on information in Ginn’s application, the county has estimated 3,509 new employees as a result of the development, said Joe Forinash, an Eagle County planner.
In addition to Ginn’s employees, the county’s number includes those employed throughout the Vail Valley in construction, retail and service as a result of the development, he said.
Mauriello called Forinash’s numbers “wild assertions.”
“That would be a community the about the size of Vail to serve a 1,700 unit development,” Mauriello wrote in an e-mail.
In an earlier economic report, Ginn projected that 970 employees and 1,264 construction employees would work directly for the company, Forinash said.
In its subsequent application to Minturn, Ginn expresses the number of employees in terms of “full-time equivalents” and is less specific about the actual number of employees, he said.
Full-time equivalents refers to the sum of part-time employees that equal full-time employees.
Ginn should provide employee housing for a larger number of employees, and Vail Valley employers like Ginn should provide housing nearby so that people commute less, Forinash said.
Employee housing allows people to live closer to where their children attend day care and school, he said.
Employers already have difficulty finding employees because of a lack of employee housing, Forinash said.
“It appears as though that will only become worse in the future,” he said.
Mauriello said Ginn would provide living quarters for 40 percent of its employees whether or not it exceeds its number of workers. Ginn has ample land to provide more employee housing, he said.
“If we get 1,000 employees, we’re on the hook for 40 percent of 1,000,” he said.
But Forinash, in a letter to Minturn’s planning commission, said Ginn has failed to include expansion of schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, libraries, restaurants, medical clinics, offices for professionals, facilities for child care and for seniors, sports fields and recreation centers.
Ginn also has failed to include those indirectly employed by the development, he said.
However, Ginn has argued that unlike businesses in Vail or Beaver Creek, Ginn would not have to draw as many people as possible to the resort. It would have a set number of guests.
Therefore, Ginn can predict its number of employees with more precision than the county, company representatives have said.
Ginn spokesman Cliff Thompson said the Vail Valley has an adequate number of grocery stores, restaurants, doctors and attorneys to serve employees and residents.
Ginn would build two emergency health care facilities, one at Bolts Lake and the other on Battle Mountain, he said.
Ginn also would build cafeterias and fitness facilities employees would use, Thompson said.
Minturn resident Burt Parks wonders where Ginn would house the other 60 percent, he said.
“When they start building roads and a ski area, where are they going to put all of them?” he said.
Thompson said the company will make sure its contractors house construction employees in hotels and elsewhere.
Clapp, the Minturn resident, said he hopes Minturn residents would constitute the bulk of the 60 percent of Ginn’s permanent employees if the project is approved, he said.
Ginn expects that most of its employees would commute from Leadville, Mauriello said.
Others would come from Minturn and Red Cliff, he said.
Minturn property values could rise with the private ski the Ginn Development Co. wants to build south of town, said Joyce Butler, managing broker for Stockman’s Land Exchange.
An enthusiastic proponent of Ginn, Butler acknowledges that high property values would make it difficult for some employees to find housing, she said.
That could cause problems for workers already living in Minturn, said Dolores Esparsen, a waitress at the Turntable Restaurant in Minturn.
She has enough trouble paying her property taxes right now, and her daughter, April, pitched in $800 for Esparsen’s $2,800 property taxes recently, she said.
That would get worse if Ginn built south, she said.
“I don’t want to sell, but I’m going to be forced to,” said Esparsen, who has lived in Minturn for 51 years.
Because of the private development, property values might not rise beyond the current growth rate, said Mauriello.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.