Will Bobby Ginn call you, Minturn residents? | VailDaily.com
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Will Bobby Ginn call you, Minturn residents?

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” Minturn residents aren’t the only ones who have faced a charged referendum on development.

In 2006, a referendum led to a well-organized campaign in Vail that one opponent said was “unlike any other campaign that’s been run in Vail.”

The referendum on Solaris, formerly the Crossroads building, had the highest voter turnout ever for any Vail municipal election.

“I don’t think we spent six figures,” on a campaign by Solaris representatives to persuade Vail residents to vote for the project, said Craig Cohn, director of sales and marketing for Solaris.

Almost two years later, Minturn residents will vote on whether to annex 4,300 acres owned by the Ginn Development Co. Ginn wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums, up to two 18-hole golf courses and a ski resort on and around Battle Mountain, south of downtown Minturn.

But will Ginn’s campaign have the same energy?

“Our full attention and focus is on further informing the community on the benefits of the Battle Mountain project, ensuring as many residents as possible turn out on May 20 to vote to uphold the unanimous Town Council decision,” said Ginn Director of Communications Cliff Thompson wrote in an e-mail.

In February, Minturn town councilors voted to annex Ginn’s land, but Minturn residents Frank Lorenti and Pete Vance gathered enough signatures to bring the annexation to a vote of Minturn residents.

Ginn representatives are working with a group of Minturn residents and business owners called Minturn Citizens for Annexation. Asked specifically how Ginn contributes to the group, Thompson declined comment.

In Vail, 70 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of Solaris, which is supposed to include 77 condominiums once it’s finished in spring 2010.

Solaris representatives targeted young people, mostly ages 18 to 30, who they thought would benefit the most from the three-screen movie theater, 10-lane bowling alley, ice rink, public plaza, stores and restaurants, Cohn said.

“We explained, ‘This is what we’re doing and why and how it benefits you,'” Cohn said.

Solaris even sponsored a concert by AC/DC cover band “Hell’s Belles” 10 days before the referendum was held. The ticket stub said, “Crossroads voter appreciation concert.”

Cohn and Solaris developer Peter Knobel also called every registered voter before the referendum. Cohn thinks that made a big impression on people because they heard from the developer.

“We made it personal and they actually heard from the people whose career and money were on the line,” Cohn said.

Like the ordinances that will appear on ballots in Minturn, a “yes” vote meant upholding town councilors’ decision. So Cohn reminded voters of that by passing out T-shirts that said, “Vote yes for Crossroads.” Solaris ran ads in the Vail Daily the last month and mailings were sent to voters.

Cohn also served pizza at lunches at the Solaris office, where representatives talked to residents about the project, and they also answered questions about it several hours more each day, he said.

They also polled people three months before the election and found that most people would vote for the proposal.

Cohn called the campaign “tremendously successful.”


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