River, scenery and ‘small-town’ values | VailDaily.com

River, scenery and ‘small-town’ values

Cliff Thompson
Preston Utley/Vail DailyLinda Vinturoni of Northwest COG presents results from the community survey Wednesday night in Minturn.

MINTURN – When Linda Venturoni started analyzing the results from the Minturn Community Survey she first looked at population statistics and decided it was a town that had literally stood still for nearly 30 years while the county around it grew nearly 100 percent.When she took a deeper look, this statistician for the Northwestern Colorado Council of Governments realized she was wrong. While the town hadn’t grown in population – it remains at 1,100 – it has in fact changed, and the survey demonstrated how much.”It’s a really interesting place,” she said. “It’s such a different trend than what I’m used to. There’s been a lot of movement of people moving in and out.”The survey, to which 171 residents and 44 business owners responded, was conducted to help the town plan future growth and development, said Wiley Smith, town planner.What the survey showed is a continuing trend toward “gentrification” as wealthier, retired residents move in. Some of them are buying property for use as vacations homes, the survey showed.While it also showed there’s a difference in attitudes between longtime residents and recent arrivals on some matters, there was unanimity on what was most important. Minturnites love their river and want to make sure it’s clear, clean and that there’s plenty of it. They also like the view and the small-town values of Minturn. Nearly 90 percent of the 221 respondents listed those values at the top of their list. Following those priorities were parks, trails, the local economy and public transportation.Spend $100

The most important issue facing the town, according to the respondents, will be the development of the 5,317-acre Battle Mountain area south of town where a developer wants to build up to 1,700 homes, a golf course and private ski hill. If the development is incorporated into Minturn, the numbers of residents in town will quadruple.Other important issues residents listed were an expected increase in traffic on Highway 24 and water supplies.One of the questions asked residents and business owners how they would spend $100 fixing up the town.Sidewalks, recreation facilities and traffic improvements topped the list with about $20 allocated to each item. It was followed by affordable housing, arts and cultural activities and parking improvements. ‘Testosterone bulge’Like many towns near the base of ski mountains, there’s a disproportionate number of young 20-something males living in Minturn to ski, Venturoni said. “It’s got a ‘testosterone bulge,'” Venturoni said, referring to a lopsided graph showing the age of the population.In addition to that bulge, the town is also beginning to feel the effects of the arrival well-heeled retirees, the survey showed. That trend in Minturn mirrors what has been happening elsewhere, particularly in resort towns in Colorado and around the country. “Retirement residents are going to be picking up in resort towns,” said Venturoni.

The survey showed a big difference in income between the new arrivals and longtime residents, Venturoni said. A chart of the length of residency shows that about half the respondents to the survey have lived in town more than 21 years, but those living in Minturn the longest typically have the lowest incomes, the survey showed. New arrivals typically have more income. “This shows the gentrification trend we’re seeing in mountain towns,” Venturoni said.Spending changeWhile there was some difference between the responses of residents and business owners to some questions, both groups responded overwhelmingly that developers should pay impact fees to the town to offset the cost of serving their developments. Nearly 90 percent of the residents and 75 percent of business owners said that was their top priority.Additional questions showed residents and business owners want to see restrictions on building height, energy efficiency requirements and density limitations,”It’s amazing to see how strong the support was,” said Venturoni. “It’s rare when 90 percent agree on anything.”Finally, most of the money people spend shopping isn’t spent in Minturn, survey results show. That ‘leakage’ of dollars flows to Avon, Edwards, Denver and elsewhere where, there are more stores.

Minturnites buy gasoline and alcoholic beverages in Minturn, and they also dine out there. Better than three-quarters of respondents purchase their gasoline and about half of the respondents purchase alcohol and dine out in Minturn.See the SITESTo see survey results online:http://www.nwc.cog.co.us/Community%20Surveys/2005%20Minturn%20Survey/2005MinturnCommunitySurvey2.pdforwww.minturn.org

Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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