Minturn’s controversial Recreational Vehicle park project back on town council agenda Thursday.
Minturn town leaders promise to put at least parts of the controversial campground proposal in context.
Bidez said the proposed $3 million campground development, which has been under fire from critics, may not be getting a fair shake in some residents’ eyes because its impacts have not been adequately explained.
He hopes a town meeting tonight will provide some of the answers to questions that have made residents leary about the 6-acre campground proposal.
“We have done our research and we’ll be taking up the issue of elk habitat and traffic,” Bidez said, citing some of the consequences residents fear the proposed 82-space site at the eastern edge of town could have.
Located across the Eagle River on a dirt road to the Two Elk trailhead, the campground would sit at the base of a gentle slope, where elks can frequently be seen grazing.
Some town residents have also criticized the proposal for the unknown number of 45-foot-long recreational vehicles that would wedge their way through the four-block-wide town.
Bidez said it is time for the council to tell the community why the campground is being considered – and what the consequences will be, if the proposal dies.
“There are a lot people who need to understand (the campground) in terms of economic development and the town’s fiscal viability,” Bidez said. “If the economy continues to go sour and and our restaurants continue to struggle, our sales taxes will keep going down and then we have two options – cutting services or property taxes are going up.”
Minturn, which operates on a bare-bones $1 million annual budget, has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy ever since a prolonged legal battle over water rights with Vail Resorts in 1998 and 1999 consumed the town’s meager savings.
“People need to understand that higher property taxes or service cuts are real possibilities of the future,” said Bidez. “Those possibilities need to be balanced with the instinct of some folks that this town should never ever change.”
The chief concern of campground critics that won’t be addressed Thursday is the park’s financing, Bidez said. Work on the debt package, he said, is expected to take until February, but in the meantime he said the council invites “meaningful and constructive criticism.”
According to the campground’s finance plan, the park will be paid for with certificates of participation. Once the park is built, the revenues would be earmarked toward repaying private investors.
According to Minturn Town Manager Alan Lanning’s financial analysis, the park would have to operate at a 35-percent occupation rate to cover debt and operational expenses.
Anything beyond that would be used toward improving the town, said Bidez.
“Resistance isn’t bad. We want to continue a very active dialogue with everyone in town we call understand all sides of the issue,” he said.
The Minturn Town Council Meeting is held at the Minturn Town Hall and starts at 7 p.m.
Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at email@example.com