Minturnites react to Gilman news
MINTURN – Karen Briggs sees good things in her town’s future – better sidewalks and better roads are just a few.Like many Minturn residents, Briggs said she sees the impending development south of town in the old Gilman mining area as an opportunity to get things done in the cash-strapped town. The man who bought that 5,300-acre piece of property, Bobby Ginn, has a reputation for including some perks for existing residents with his development plans. He also has a reputation for bringing change.That’s why Briggs made a plea to her town leaders Wednesday night, just before they unanimously decided to begin the process of including Ginn’s property within Minturn’s limits.”It’s not up to him to keep us the way we are,” she said. “It’s up to us to keep us the way we are.”Gated community in Minturn?
Preliminary plans call for a private ski resort and a golf course community that would be valued at more than $1 billion. Ginn gave no specific figures on the number of homes that will be built, but estimated about 500 to 600 may be built near the ski hill, and up to 125 will be built near the golf course. He also has plans to redevelop the abandoned mining town of Gilman and to build additional homes on the southern edge of the property. There will be restaurants and shops in Ginn’s development, but they will be for residents, guests and property owners of the project only. Similar to projects he has done in Florida and South Carolina, this community will be a private club, though this will be Ginn’s first ski resort.Vail resident Andy Wiessner asked if Eagle County needed another private, gated community, noting the area already has reputation for being exclusive. Some think that by closing off the ski hill and golf course to the public, Ginn’s project won’t create as much traffic on Minturn’s Main Street, a.k.a, U.S. Highway 24 – the only way to that property.”We live on Main Street, so traffic is one of our biggest concerns,” said David Bower, in an interview conducted last week.The Ginn Company, which will operate the private resort once its finished, intends to offer a membership to the club’s services to Red Cliff and Minturn residents at a reduced rate, Ginn said.
Preserving the landLocal residents have long anticipated what might happen with the property Ginn purchased last year. Speculation has ranged from absolutely nothing happening there to another addition to the Vail Mountain ski area. It’s a challenging piece of property, local residents and the developer agree. It’s rocky and mountainous and, Ginn said Wednesday, there are still disputes over ownership and water rights that could prolong annexation.Wiessner wants the town and Ginn to forge a strict contract that will prevent homes from being built on ridge lines, he said. “That land will be visible by Vail’s Back Bowls,” he said. Ginn’s land also will be visible from the Holy Cross Wilderness – a popular hiking and backpacking area. And elk, deer and other wildlife migrate through portions of Ginn’s land, Wiessner said. And then there are the environmental concerns. At least some of the property is still contaminated by mining and was included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund clean-up program. Ginn told the crowd that about 150 acres of his property still requires significant clean-up, including Gilman. Superfund Project Manager Hermando Saenz said about 300 acres, plus a strip 50 meters wide on either side of the Eagle River about 10 miles long will need to be cleaned up if developed.
Elephants in the roomLongtime local resident Pete Burnett had one question for Ginn: Will you try to connect your property with Vail Mountain’s Blue Sky Basin? To that, Ginn answered, “Absolutely not.”As for rumors of bankruptcy – which Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty asked Ginn to clarify – Ginn said his company has not filed for bankruptcy. However, Ginn did file for bankruptcy personally after the Savings & Loan crisis in the mid-1980s.Councilman Jerry Bumgarner also wanted to clear up another rumor. “To set the record straight, he has not requested that we change the name of the town to Ginnturn,” he said, with a laugh.Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com. Staff Writer Cliff Thompson contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado