Minturn town councilor: Let Minturn control its destiny
Vail CO, Colorado
After reading Mr. Lorenti’s article in the Vail Daily dated May 12, I feel compelled to correct and clear up some misinformation.
To start with let’s address the recreation center. This was one of the main benefits we sought from the developer and they have deposited $6 million in an escrow account, which becomes the town of Minturn’s money if there is an affirmative vote for annexation on May 20. During the annexation proceedings the town hired and Ginn paid for Oz Architects to create a master plan for the town. Through a number of public meetings and countless hours of work they produced an amazing document that provides for a future framework for Minturn to grow and prosper. This document clearly states that the rec center will be placed on the town-owned land where Lafarge operates the concrete plant. Along with the rec center, it is envisioned that there will be ball fields and potential employee housing, which might be an opportunity for Minturn renters who have been unable to purchase a home. Nothing is set in stone except for the $6 million in the bank. The placement and configurations may change over time as the new council and citizens seem fit but that is what the past council was thinking when approving the annexation.
The traffic issue was probably what the council spent the most time on and worked the hardest to figure out. One of my pet peeves during the process was that the developer continually said that the Colorado Department of Transportation said this and approved that and I was unwilling to take them on their word. After two years of asking, CDOT came to a work session on Feb. 13 and was represented by Zane Znamenacek, permit engineer region 3, and Jim Pitkin, maintenance supervisor for Eagle and Lake counties. The primary issues the council wanted addressed were the access points to the resort, the potential of widening of Highway 24 and the speed limits. Regarding the access points, the Ginn Company and CDOT were still fine-tuning the mountain entrance but it was decided the Bolts Lake entrance would be a roundabout at the bottom of Battle Mountain primarily because it would slow down traffic.
As far as widening of Highway 24, they stated that they have no intention of doing so and the road would be adequate to service the increase in traffic. Widening 24 is not in their 30- or 60-year plan. As for the speed limit, CDOT stated in situations like Minturn’s, where the state highway is the town’s main street, their goal is not to get traffic through town as fast as possible but as safe as possible, and they thought the additions of sidewalks and bulb-outs were a good idea. More importantly, they acknowledged the difficulties in dealing with 100-year-old towns where sometimes the platted right-of-way does not reflect the paved right of way, and showed a willingness to come up with solutions that works for everybody. In the end they said that this was the most comprehensive and progressive traffic management plans they had been associated with and commended the town and the developer for a job well done.
It is not surprising that Mr. Lorenti is misinformed about the annexation because in the two-and-a-half years that the annexation was in front of the council I do not once remember him addressing the council with his concerns over the annexation and rarely do I remember him being in the audience listening. He did speak to us about the appropriateness of residential barb wire fencing, adding fluoride to the water system and the nuisance ordinance, where he referred to Minturn as the armpit of the valley. Upon which I asked him why he moved here and he did not reply.
When deciding whether to vote for or against the annexation I urge you to become properly informed. Feel free to call your council or town staff with questions. Check out the web site http://www.minturn.org and http://www.minturncitizensforannexation.org. It is also important to consider what a no vote means. Ginn is not going to pack up its bags and head back to Florida after it donates the land to a conservation group. They probably have close $100 million invested in this project to date and are going to do what ever it takes to develop the land. If that means annexing to Red Cliff or developing it through the county, that is what they will do. In both instances, I believe they would be successful. Red Cliff has already indicated they would annex and Ginn could solve the county’s employee housing problem, which would give Ginn considerable leverage in negotiations. In either case, Minturn would get all the impacts and none of the benefits. The council worked hard to craft an agreement that would benefit the town, and I believe we struck an amazing deal that includes:
– $6 million in funding for a recreation center.
– $2 million for a bike trail between Ginn property and Dowd Junction.
– Construction and use of bike path through the Ginn property.
– Funding for a town library.
– $350,000 for a Minturn scholarship fund.
– $250,000 for completion of the second phase of Little Beach Park.
– $12 million in funding for the town to acquire up to five parcels of Forest Service land.
– Public easements along the Eagle River and Cross Creek on Ginn property.
– Funding for wastewater and water treatment plants, as well as distribution systems.
– Street improvements including sidewalks and bulb outs.
– Funding for parking lots.
– 30 days of skiing for $50.
– Clean up of two Superfund sites
Please do not risk Minturn’s future. Vote yes on all 11.
Tom Sullivan is a Minturn town councilman. E-mail comments about this column to email@example.com.
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