Valley Voices: Pro " Minturn’s great deal at stake
Vail CO, Colorado
On May 20, Minturnites like you and me will be asked to vote on a decision our elected representatives made in February on Ginn’s plans for a private ski area and golf course development at Battle Mountain.
The ballot asks if you will uphold the 11 actions taken by the Minturn Town Council, annexing Battle Mountain. To approve this and uphold the decision made by the Town Council ” which reviewed the plan for more than two years ” you need to make 11 Xs in the “Yes” box on the ballot.
This is an opportunity for Minturn that we need to seize because it involves a quality developer with a proven track record who has demonstrated his commitment to work with the town and its citizens. But more important, this opportunity needs your support because the Town Council negotiated a heck of a deal for you and me, and it doesn’t cost us a dime. Interesting fact: your property taxes can actually decrease because the town will have significant new revenues from property taxes, real estate transfer taxes, and tax revenue from the general improvement district that taxes only the Battle Mountain property, but pays for improvements in our existing town. Even though the value of your home may increase, your property taxes won’t necessarily increase. Because the town will have other income to support itself, it will no longer be as reliant on revenues from your property taxes, and can decrease your property tax rate.
Imagine being able to take your kids to a Minturn recreation center ” with a pool, gymnasium, activity rooms, child care, media center and weight rooms ” by riding there on a new bike path across the river from Main Street or walking there on new sidewalks. If you’re a senior citizen, you can also enjoy new improved facilities.
And, for just $50 a year, you and your kids can ski at the new resort. If the recreation center doesn’t hold your interest, Little Beach Park will be completed and become a great community facility.
I personally like the fact that the Town Council required the developer to establish a $350,000 scholarship fund strictly for Minturn residents. I’m just sorry my kids are already out of college!
All told, the benefits conferred to Minturn are in excess of $180 million. The developer didn’t donate that “the Town Council required it.
All this and more is at risk in this election if we do not vote yes. If the measure fails, the developer will have to evaluate his options. It’s not likely Minturn will be at the top of that list. Would you go back to a town that rejected you? What will happen then? Will we see the effects of development? Probably.
Will we get any benefits? Not likely. Will Red Cliff or the county negotiate to protect our way of life ” including very strong traffic control ” as well as our Town Council did? For sure not.
There’s a lot of misinformation being circulated by a few people opposing the Town Council’s actions. But a little research of the facts reveals a different story than what is being spun by opponents who want you to believe the developer and Town Council have engaged in a conspiracy to hoodwink you. They paint a picture of toxic waste, smelly sewer plants and bulldozers leveling Main Street residences. Not only are they wrong, they are disingenuous.
Approving the project is Minturn’s only way to control the impacts of development on Battle Mountain. To make sure Minturn does not lose this opportunity, a group of Minturnites have organized an issues committee, Minturn Citizens for Annexation. Some of us ” neighbors ” may have already spoken to you and provided you with the information you need to be fully informed of the decision you’re being asked to make. We’ve also launched a Web site, Minturncitizensforannexation.org, which contains additional factual material. The town of Minturn has a Web site, http://www.minturn.org, that contains copies of the actual documents that the citizens are being asked to approve at the upcoming election.
Will there be some effects from the development at Battle Mountain? Yes. But the chances of that property remaining undeveloped are remote at best. Making sure our town has the opportunity to control the development and benefit as much as possible from it is paramount, and that is what is at stake in this election.
It boils down to the accumulation of net benefits for residents like you and me versus the effect of development. Has the town done a responsible and comprehensive job in requiring the effects of the development be addressed and that the risk to existing residents is absolutely minimized? Absolutely. The details are in the public record, and in the agreements you are being asked to approve.
As a longtime resident of the town and a former Town Council member, I’m familiar with how government and developers interact and I can tell you that your elected representatives held this developer’s feet to the fire and struck an excellent deal. Not just a good deal, but a great deal. It gives Minturn citizens ” you and me ” the opportunity to control our future.
I’m urging you to do two things on May 20. First, get out and vote; and second, vote yes 11 times.
Fred Haslee is a Minturn resident. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.