Letter: Some perspective on the Minturn railroad property | VailDaily.com

Letter: Some perspective on the Minturn railroad property

I am writing to comment on Monday’s article regarding the town of Minturn’s position on the Union Pacific Railroad property in north Minturn. I have been a leaseholder in this area for 13 years and have worked very hard with the town’s staff to create the conditional use permit regulations and establish a working relationship with the town and our neighbors. Unfortunately, one very vocal neighbor took it upon themselves to make the whole situation difficult for town staff and councilmembers.

It is important to remember a few things about this area. The whole rail yard area is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad and they have the same rights as any private property owner to utilize their property according to zoning and municipal regulations. The current zoning for this area is commercial/industrial. It would be a violation of the owners’ right to not allow them to operate within these guidelines. 

The councilmembers unfortunately made comments that the rail yard storage was a “nuisance” or “total negative” for the town. I’m not sure you should consider businesses that provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages for employees and property owners that live in Minturn a nuisance or total negative. Not to mention the tens of thousands spent on local goods and services by these businesses. It is also a bit of a conflict of interest when the town leases storage yard areas on the south end of town within the same proximity distance to residential as the rail yard storage area. 

As leaseholders, we have spent collectively over $100 thousand dollars cleaning, maintaining and building fencing to comply with the conditional use permit regulations. There was also a noise study completed by the town of Minturn that showed to rail yard tenants were well below the noise ordinance levels. 

I know ultimately the town would love for the railroad to simply give up $30 million dollars of property and create open space, but it probably won’t happen, given that Union Pacific railroad is currently in negotiations to re-open the Leadville to Gypsum rail line. The line would run straight through this area and under the national laws governing the railways they will be allowed to use this corridor. Union Pacific opened the Minturn rail line in 1887, stopped using it in the mid ’90s but never decommissioned the line, leaving the future option of re-establishing the line when needed. 

This commercial/industrial area is of vital importance to those who use it and the Minturn-based employees and property owners that have their businesses storing there. The council should make slightly larger considerations when looking at the usage in this area. There are significant economic benefits to the town of Minturn in jobs and businesses that utilize this area. The current storage also allows a concentration of construction material and equipment that won’t be stored at private residences in town. 
As operators within the lease area we are also the neighbors of this area. We are continually responding to any requests from town to resolve potential issues as quickly as possible, I just think it is important that people realized the importance of this longstanding commercial use area in Minturn and the ongoing economic benefit it continues to deliver to the town of Minturn.

Reid Phillips

Minturn Builders Cooperative

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