Minturn mayor’s race: Flaherty seeks fifth term |

Minturn mayor’s race: Flaherty seeks fifth term

Steve LynnVail, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyMayor Gordon "Hawkeye" Flaherty, who's running for re-election, says Minturn has made a good deal with the developer building a private ski resort on Battle Mountain.

MINTURN, Colorado Decades ago, Gordon Hawkeye Flaherty got his nickname from his boss, Pete Burnett, at work for the town of Vail. Burnett liked the television series M.A.S.H. and nicknamed Flaherty after Capt. Benjamin Franklin Hawkeye Pierce. I dont know why he did that, Flaherty said.

Flaherty, an incumbent who beat George Brodin by three votes in 2006, will to run against Town Councilwoman Shelley Bellm in Aprils election. He hopes hes elected to serve his fifth term as mayor, he said. Except for a couple years living in the Colorado Springs area when he was young, Flaherty was born in Minturn and has lived the majority of his life here. I havent found any place better, he said. He was on council for two years in the 1990s and has served as mayor for eight years between 1998 to 2008.That experience, on the job training, is a big qualification, Flaherty said. His greatest challenges through the years have been settling a water lawsuit between the town and a collection of water users called the Vail Consortium. Flaherty helped reach an agreement that was fair to both sides, he said. Flaherty also has been fiscally responsible, by running the town on a no more than $1.5 million annual budget without going into debt, he said. Weve been able to maintain with a little, he said. Weve provided no, really, extras to the citizens of Minturn.He also helped get funding for a fire station in Minturn, he said. When hes not presiding at Town Council meetings, he goes to other government meetings around the county. Or he might go hiking when his wife drags him out occasionally, he said. He used to ski, but hasnt been in years, he said. I broke my skis a few years back and never bought another pair, he said. Even if he doesnt ski, he likes being mayor. I find it fun, I find it interesting, he said.

Vail Daily: Why are you running for mayor of Minturn? Gordon Hawkeye Flaherty: I really love where I live and I enjoy what Im doing. I think I do a good job for the citizens and I enjoy working for the citizens.VD: The Ginn Development Co. wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums and a private ski resort and golf course in Minturn. Do you support the current agreements between councilors and Ginn, such as their annexation agreement and traffic management, employee housing and wildlife plans? Why or why not?GF: I do support them. Its a good agreement for the town. The agreement benefits the town, and not just financially. It gives us some regulation and control over whats happening up there. It provides recreational amenities to the citizens of Minturn and Red Cliff at a reasonable cost, like the skiing and the golf course. Were going to be able to have some say and some control over how much traffic is running through town. I think the employee housing program is one of the best if not the best employee housing agreement in the county. Fifty percent of the Ginn employees have to have housing and I think 50 percent of that housing has to be in the city limits of Minturn.And the wildlife plan, I think Bill Andree (district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife) and the town really did a good job of protecting the endangered species, which is the peregrine falcon. We got a good sum of money out of the developer to improve the wildlife habitat, you know, the elk wintering range. I think the water service agreement is really gong to help the town. Were going to get our infrastructure upgraded. Were going to get a state of the art water plant. In Bolts Lake, were going to have a manmade reservoir. You know what happens around lakes, wildlife just becomes abundant.Were going to get a large amount of money or else a new wastewater treatment plant. If that wastewater plant is built within a certain distance of the confluence of Dowd Junction it allows us to use our full water rights.VD: Ginn has made several promises, such as housing 50 percent of its employees, providing a ski pass for residents and using green-building standards. What would you do to make sure that Ginn fulfills those promises if the project is eventually approved?GF: The council and the lawyers I think had the foresight to put in consequences into the annexation agreement. In my opinion, thats been addressed. If he reneges on it, its in writing. There should not be a problem. I think hes a man of his word. What happens if he backs down? Well, there are consequences. The biggest one is he loses his vested rights. If he loses his vested rights, he doesnt have the ability to do the project any longer.VD: Other than the Ginn development, what is the most important issue or problem facing Minturn in the coming years? Why is it important? How do you plan to address the issue or problem?GF: Theres no other issue thats more important than this, and by addressing this, weve addressed a lot of the issues facing Minturn in the future. I went back through the 2005 community survey. The most important issue to be addressed in the next five years is the development of the Gilman property. Now thats been addressed. The next thing was preservation of small-town character. Well, were going to work on that. We work on that all the time. The next most important issue to be addressed was traffic on Highway 24. Weve addressed that. Along with this development were going to have an improved streetscape through Minturn, which I believe will help address the traffic on Highway 24.After that is the water issue. Thats going to be addressed. Were gong to get a new water plant and water infrastructure upgrades and the preservation of open space. The Ginn Development Co. is going to give us money to buy open space around town.Continued development of town is probably going to be an important issue. In 2005, the top issue in the community was the bike trail and the recreation center. Both of those should be addressed through the annexation agreement. All of these things the citizens said were important issues in the survey three years ago, a lot of them are starting to be addressed and will continue to be addressed.VD: What qualifies you for the role of mayor?GF: What qualifies me? My good looks. No, I think one thing that qualifies me is just my love of the area and my interest in helping to preserve whats been built over the years and the history that the town has.Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

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