Minturn, Ginturn – just watch out |

Minturn, Ginturn – just watch out

So an ultra-wealthy, formerly bankrupt, out-of-state developer with a penchant for resort areas and an ego bigger than Michael Jackson’s Star Witness lineup combined wants to increase the physical size of Minturn by 700 percent while somehow retaining its smalltown charm and relatively quiescent bedroom-for-workers existence.Sound familiar?Sure it does. Except for a few minor details like location, a private ski resort and golf course, this sounds eerily similar to the cat the town of Avon spent four years trying to baptize back in 1994.Difference is, though, developing Gilman and the surrounding mountainsides is to the Village at Avon what liberating Iraq was to Grenada. Both developers want to follow their own little personal American dream of making a profit via progressive capitalism. But where Magnus Lindholm is doing it by constructing the vast majority on a flat, defunct airport and gravel pit, Bobby Ginn wants to accomplish it by shredding a few thousand acres of the most beautiful alpine landscaping nature saw fit to bestow upon Eagle County.Yes, calling me an environmentalist is like calling Rush Limbaugh a femi-Nazi liberal, but that is not the point here.Back in 1994, when the town of Avon was first officially approached by Magnus Lindholm and his Swedish meatballs, Avon was about 1,800 acres large, and they wanted to double the town’s size with another 1,800 acres. If we wouldn’t play ball, they simply threatened to take not only their ball but the entire game to the county level.Avon had two choices: negotiate an agreement based upon mutual distrust, or gamble the town’s future by wagering that Eagle County would care more about Avon than they would the single largest land owner in Eagle County AND his 20-year plan for creating a new town that on its own would possibly bankrupt Avon in less than a year.Not exactly a tough choice, wouldn’t you agree?Like all non-partisan elected officials serving because they want to be part of a solution instead of a problem, we (I was one of them) made mistakes – lots of ”em. But it was a learning process from day one until four long and hard-fought years later when the project was approved in the fall of 1998.Developers make mistakes, as well, but never forget that they are professionals at what they do, and their project is being judged, and therefore accepted or rejected, by amateurs. Yes, town councils have professional staffs that hopefully have a clue about regulations and such, but the conclusive buck stops with the governmental greenhorns.And this is where things become a little dicey for Minturn. If there is one particular fact of political life that I learned in my four-year stint, it was the true meaning of the phrase “never say never.””They will never ask for commercial land north of I-70.””They will never want to move the school site from directly next to 90 percent of the residential area.””They will never have access east of the public works facility.””They will never be allowed by the Forest Service to build a road west from their I-70 north interchange.”This is only four short examples, and there are many, many more. But each “promise” has been systematically removed from the Neverland shelf and placed squarely in the center of the reality table. Now, granted, none of these items on their own were, or are, disastrous to the entire project as a whole (Buffalo Ridge comes close, though, as it actually makes sections of Silverthorne look nice), and the developer has every right to ask for changes along the way.But we did not anticipate, nor appreciate, the simple fact that a project of that magnitude would evolve to such a drastic degree over time.Making the entire infrastructure self-funding was the best move we ever made for Avon taxpayers, and I strongly suggest the same for Minturn. But those are details that won’t come into play for a while. Perhaps a very long while.Either way, just remember, dear Minturn, that from day one you have a right to protect yourself and your borders, and that no request – not a single one – is too outlandish or unreasonable to demand from a developer, because they will certainly ask such of you. Actually, they will ask for at least two or three times as much as they actually expect to come away with. It is all a well-planned dog and pony show with you as pay-at-the-door spectators. Also, do not trust the county government to look out for your best interests. This will not happen. They are so busy chasing down new ways to spend uncollected tax dollars to please the vocal minorities that they will look at this project with dollar signs in their eyes and the secular sounds of “ca-ching!” ringing in their ears.The only ones you can truly depend upon are yourselves.”The development will occur, whether the Minturn council chooses to annex the property or not,” said Town Manager Ann Capela.More foreboding words have never been spoken.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at poor@vail.netVail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism