Minturn unveils plans for RV Park
After months of negotiating behind closed doors, the Minturn Town Council gave residents their first look at what a privately developed recreational vehicle park might look like.
Seeking to clear up questions and speculation on the issue, Mayor Earl Bidez invited architect Steve Isom of Isom & Associates to present preliminary plans for the proposed RV park during the board’s special meeting Wednesday night. The presentations was added to the agenda as an informational item.
For the first time, the public now knows who the developer is – Rocky Mountain RV Resorts, a limited liability company that has developed RV parks in Denver, Estes Park and Grand Junction. Residents also know that the plan has grown significantly since a committee came up with the idea two years ago.
Isom presented plans for 100 to 110 RV hook-ups and 40 cabins – a project nearly twice the size as the town’s original proposal. In return for the larger size, town officials have asked Rocky Mountain RV Resorts to include a swimming pool, community building and a recreation center in their plans. Those facilities would be available to Minturn residents.
“We felt that if they were going to build something bigger, we should get something in return that would benefit Minturn residents,” Bidez said.
Nevertheless, the council’s plans to build a RV park on town-owned property has many residents concerned. Fears that the park would change Minturn’s small-town character or fail to bring in the sales tax revenue the town is seeking has prompted several residents to demand a public vote on the issue – an idea the council has refused to entertain so far.
The RV park also has become the single most important issue in the town’s upcoming council election. Bidez, who is seeking re-election Tuesday, will face off against a vocal RV park opponent, former Minturn Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty. Likewise, candidates for the council seats are divided over the RV park.
‘Numbers are fuzzy’
Originally, the RV park was supposed to have 60 RV hook-ups, 15 cabins and five camping spaces. But Isom said the developer determined that was too small to make the project financially viable.
While a much larger project may give the town some bargaining power when it comes to community amenities, some residents question how financially viable the project is at either size.
Feasibility studies have shown that the park could attract 10,000 people annually to the town and with that, thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue. But resident Ty Gillespie said he wants something more specific.
“I would like to see some preliminary financial analysis,” he said. “The numbers are very fuzzy.”
Others who attended the meeting point out that the property, located on Minturn’s east side, backs up to elk habitat. The project’s increased size means there will likely be more people in the vicinity who don’t necessarily know to keep away from wildlife.
Rules and regulations can take care of that, Isom suggested. Other requirements, such as forbidding resort users from storing items under their RV units, requiring that all pets be on a leash and establishing a limit on the length of stay will ensure that the park stays a high-class “resort” and not an affordable housing project, he said.
Rocky Mountain RV Resorts plans to employ a full-time attendant to watch over the park. But Tom Sullivan, a candidate for the council and owner of the Minturn Inn, wonders if another police officer will be needed to deal with the additional people in town.
“If we’re adding close to 350 to 400 more people to the population of the town, are we going to need more services?” Sullivan asked.
The cost of adding those services needs to be considered when determining how much money the project will make for Minturn, he said.
Better yet, how would a project like this affect a homeowner’s property values, George Brodin, another council candidate, asked.
“I’ve never seen or heard of any real detriment to the community (because of an RV park),” Isom said.
Plans call for a large, landscaped berm that would hide most of the RV park. That should mask most of the light pollution, Isom said.
“It’s impossible to make development completely invisible, but I think we can come close,” he said.
No one would reveal who the parent company for Rocky Mountain RV Resorts is, but Isom said the company is based in Denver and has built housing in the Vail and Beaver Creek areas.
As with most of the project, plans for a swimming pool, a recreation center and a community building are still preliminary.
The pool, as proposed, would be enclosed and have an outside sun deck. The recreation center would be roughly one-third the size of the Avon Recreation Center. The community building would have meeting rooms that could hold up to 100 people, Isom said.
Those facilities would be built at the entrance to the park, so residents could get to them easily. Those buildings would be available for resort users as well.
Perhaps the biggest concern for residents is the financial liability to the town if the project fails. Minturn currently leases the property slated for the park to a gravel pit operation and a radio tower. The latter, which brings in $13,000 annually to the town, would stay. The gravel pit will be gone.
The RV park developer and the council have discussed creating a 20-year lease on the property, with the option of renewing that lease for another 20 years. The cost of the lease hasn’t been established yet.
Rocky Mountain RV Resorts intends to pay for not only the project itself – which is estimated to cost $10 million – but for all the water, sewer and road development required to support the park. Because the developer is assuming all the costs, there is no liability to the town, Isom said.
The town will receive money for the lease, Isom said, plus the 4-percent sales tax from each rented out RV slot or cabin. He also presented data showing that RV enthusiasts spend an average of $89 per day, not including resort fees.
Some are still dubious.
“We don’t think RVers are going to spend money in Minturn,” Woody Woodruff said. “They will stay in their RVs and eat there and just create traffic.”
Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.