The Basalt Town Council gave its staff a green light Tuesday night to pursue new options to relocate residents of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park.
The council voted 6-0 in favor of a resolution that vows the town will try to answer concerns raised by Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt, a faction of residents in the mobile-home park that rejected the financial-aid packages offered by the town. Instead, the group wants the town to provide housing at a similar cost to the $650 each household is paying per month at the Pan and Fork.
About 12 members of the residents’ group attended the meeting, and only one person spoke. It was in contrast to a meeting the night before, when more than 30 residents of the mobile-home park met with senior town staff and spoke passionately about their desire to remain in Basalt. Members of the group contend that the financial aid the town is offering, which ranges from about $15,000 to $22,000 per family, isn’t enough to allow them to remain in the Basalt area.
Ralph Vazquez, an organizer of the residents’ group, was the designated speaker at the council meeting.
“We formed the group because we obviously disagree with the relocation process,” Vazquez said. He contended that even some people who accepted the town’s financial aid did so because they felt they had no other option.
Vazquez thanked Town Manager Mike Scanlon for taking the initiative to look at other options. Scanlon told the group Monday night that it was possible that an affordable-housing project will be built in Basalt in about one year. Some residents may be eligible to buy a unit at that project, he said.
Scanlon reminded the council Tuesday night that Basalt has been contemplating an affordable-housing project with Pitkin County officials since June. Land needs to be purchased, a plan needs to be approved, financing needs to be raised, and the housing needs to be constructed.
“This is the year we’re going to get it done one way or another,” said Basalt Councilman Rick Stevens. He said other parties need to “step up,” an apparent reference to Pitkin County.
There appeared to be a communication breakdown at the meeting between the residents’ group and the council. Stevens thanked Vazquez for the group’s “support” of the town’s effort. Vazquez reminded the council that the Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt group formed because it didn’t support the direction the town’s efforts were going at the Pan and Fork.
“We don’t agree with the current relocation framework,” Vazquez said. The group represents 10 families that own trailers and roughly 30 people, he said.
Scanlon said town staff has relocated 125 people from the Pan and Fork, so the relocation effort is roughly half finished.
Scanlon said he would meet with the residents’ group in three weeks to discuss progress he has made on options. He will brief the council in a month.
After the meeting, Vazquez said he was concerned about whether the message came through that the residents’ group doesn’t like the current relocation framework, but he also expressed hope that the town will find replacement housing options.
“I’m happy we got their attention,” Vazquez said.