Minturn needs money
MINTURN, Colorado – Minturn Town Council candidates are resting a lot of the town’s needs on the shoulders of the Battle Mountain development project – a project on hold with no signs of life in the near future.
The candidates said money promised to the town for the development is one of the only ways to fix problems in town, such as improving town roads, sidewalks and water lines.
The candidates talked about the town’s future at a forum Tuesday night at Town Hall. There are three open council seats and the mayor seat up for election, which is set for April 6. Candidate and incumbent Aggie Martinez was sick Tuesday and did not attend the forum.
About 20 town residents showed up and submitted questions about how candidates plan to revitalize Minturn and fix problems such as declining sales tax revenues, infrastructure, parking and the environment.
It all comes back to getting the money promised to the town by the Battle Mountain developers, said candidate Frank Lorenti. That money would not only build necessities such as infrastructure, but the money brought to Minturn from the development would also provide amenities such as a town recreation center, he said.
“That’s what’s going to rejuvenate this town,” Lorenti said. “That’s why (Minturn residents) voted for it.”
Minturn, with its aging buildings, torn-up sidewalks and roads and other infrastructure woes, has seen a significant sales tax revenue decrease since 2007 – a reason many candidates say attracting new businesses to the town is one way to bring in more money.
Hawkeye Flaherty, the current mayor running for re-election, said he’s not sure there’s much the town can do to grow the economy other than to encourage people who live in town to go out and support businesses there. He said the town needs to tap into the fact that it sits between two world-class ski resorts, too.
“We just need to get people from there to here – it’s 15 miles,” Flaherty said.
Council candidate John Rosenfeld said whatever the town comes up with, it has to preserve the town’s character and uniqueness.
“This is the only real town in this valley,” Rosenfeld said.
Candidate and incumbent Shelley Bellm wants Battle Mountain developers to keep their promises, too. She said another great way to invigorate the town is with special events that are different from anything in neighboring towns.
“We need unique events that will draw people to the town,” Bellm said.
And just like the Town Council cannot operate without citizen input, the town cannot stay afloat without citizen participation, said Earle Bidez, a council candidate and former council member and mayor.
Council candidate and incumbent Jerry Bumgarner wants more business in Minturn and said the town also has to concentrate on providing services to people in town. He said that while the town needs to attract some kind of niche, it’s a difficult time to encourage people to come.
Candidates largely agreed that the town’s infrastructure needs repairing and that Battle Mountain development is the answer. Nobody asked candidates how the town could make necessary improvements without the Battle Mountain development, but candidates made it clear that it would be nearly impossible with the state of the current economy.