Minturn cracking down on "junkers’ |

Minturn cracking down on "junkers’

Christine Ina Casillas

“It’s the gates of Minturn,” Martinez says. “It’s not an appropriate place to dump vehicles. It’s become a junkyard.”

Minturn police officials approached the U.S. Forest Service about enforcing the town ordinance at the lot because the Forest Service owns it. As signed by the federal agency, overnight commercial parking and other parking beyond 72 hours are prohibited, says Cal Wettstein, district ranger, in a letter to the Minturn Police Department.

“This has been going on for while. People just come in and dump their cars on the lot, and it’s Forest Service property,” Martinez says. “Other people are just dumping their cars and then moving out of the area completely.”

Any car on the lot that has exceeded the 72-hour limit will be towed by the Forest Service and charged by the Minturn Police Department as a nuisance vehicle, Martinez said. The ordinance declares that any inoperable car parked on any lot or parcel of property in the town is considered a nuisance.

“Inoperable vehicles shall mean any vehicle, including but not limited to motor vehicles, trailers, motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATV’s which does not have current license or registration, is incapable of moving or operating on its own power or as originally manufactured, or is missing, in the judgement of authorized town offices, any significant component part,” the ordinance says.

Wettstein says the cars found in the lot run the gamut, from commercial vehicles to trucks, travel trailers and motor homes.

“A lot of them are junkers,” Wettstein says. “They’re close to being dead, and the people just park them and then walk away.”

Some of the cars in the lot already have notices on them, Wettstein says.

But the lot was set up with good intentions, he says. The parking lot was built in a “neighborly fashion” and “community minded.”

“It’s just turned into a real nightmare,” he says.

The parking lot originally was set up for people who would park their cars, jump in a friends’ car and go hiking, skiing or camping for a few days or over a weekend. Others used it to carpool to Dillon, Denver or downvalley, he says.

“Now, it’s turned into a junkyard. The Forest Service is not in the parking lot business,” says Wettstein. “A lot of people are concerned, because it really is an eyesore.”

Martinez says the Minturn police now are finding it difficult to track down the owners of the cars because people have moved away.

“We’re getting the last-known address but usually that address isn’t their current address,” Martinez says. “We’re tagging them abandoned.”

Now that the town has the authority to ticket and enforce the ordinance, more cars will be shipped to a tow lot and more tickets will be issued, Martinez said.

Either way, the town is cracking down and cleaning up.

Minturn, meanwhile, is seeking volunteers for the town’s clean-up day May 17. The Public Works Department will have a centralized drop-off point at the municipal parking lot, but those who want to participate can meet at 9 a.m., May 17, in front of the Turntable Restaurant.

“Overall, the town clean-up will allow the police department to take a force of action and enforce the regulations,” Martinez said.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or by e-mail at

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