Vail Daily column: For sure, something’s floating

Richard Carnes
My View

My first thought after reading last week’s Vail Daily story “Big land swap idea floated in Minturn” was, “Cool, they’re gonna run a story from The Onion every once in a while just to mess with people’s heads.”

But then I discovered the horrifying truth — it was real.

Something is indeed floating around Battle Mountain, but I’m pretty sure it’s not an idea.

Back in 2004, Florida developer Bobby Ginn was just the latest in a long line of wealthy white guys determined to lose money on the land above and around the Gilman mine and our infamous Superfund toxic waste site.

Approaching the town of Minturn for possible annexation, then Minturn Town Manager Ann Capela said, “The development will occur, whether Minturn Council chooses to annex the property or not.”

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Four years later, with no mines, no trains and what was about to be no economy, annexation did occur.

A year later, Bobby Ginn declared bankruptcy and a group called Crave took over the project.

Fast forward another six years, and except for a few road cuts nothing has been constructed.

Now they want to exchange their approved development for the last refuge of undeveloped land along the Interstate 70 corridor from East Vail to Gypsum known as Meadow Mountain (one must not forget the already approved, “new and improved!” Wolcott).

And here’s where it becomes exceptionally comical.

Spokesman Tim McGuire said, “There is no question that we will develop Battle Mountain if an exchange is not feasible. … Development at Meadow Mountain could result in a reduction of the traffic impacts to Minturn, maintain development closer to the I-70 corridor and preserve valuable, undisturbed interconnected elk and lynx habitat on Battle Mountain.”

So to be perfectly clear, they have already been approved to increase traffic impacts to Minturn, develop outside the I-70 corridor and freely disturb interconnected elk and lynx habitat on Battle Mountain to their heart’s content.

Okey-dokey, but what suckers would have approved such nonsense?

Oh, that’s right, the same ones they now want to approve the land exchange, so I suppose six years ago the traffic, location and animal habitats apparently were not major issues (87 percent of voters agreed).

For Pete’s sake, haven’t we learned enough times about the volatility of overzealous developers and their financial eccentricities?

For 25 years we watched Fred Kummer and Adam’s Rib (now Frost Creek), then the Village at Avon (17 years into a 20-year project that still is little more than a Walmart and Home Depot), the West End (Edwards), Brightwater (Gypsum), Eagle River Station (Eagle), the Cordillera collapse and the multiple smaller ones that I can’t remember at the moment.

And now these Battle Mountain Developers claim there is no connection whatsoever between them wanting the Meadow Mountain land and the possibility of Vail Resorts maybe, just maybe, at some point in the far distant future, considering the option of wanting the land to expand Beaver Creek east or Vail west, or both.

Yep, you betcha’, and Bruce Jenner and the Duggar family (19 Excuses and Counting) all deserve Purple Hearts for American courage while you’re at it.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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