Pan and Fork residents want deadline pushed
Ryan Summerlin January 18, 2014
A faction of residents at the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park wants the Basalt Town Council to drop a deadline to move them out by May.
Nine families, banded together in a group called Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt, submitted a letter to the council Tuesday night seeking the extension. They want to remain at the trailer park until they are given alternative housing where they can relocate.
The town government started relocating residents of the 38-space trailer park last summer. The town is undertaking a project to ease the flood risk of the Roaring Fork River and restore riverbanks and other ecosystem traits. The town also will build a riverside park and raise the level of adjacent property out of the floodplain so it can be redeveloped.
The Workers group noted in its letter to the town that federal permits for the river work are valid for 22 months. Therefore, residents should be given more time than the end of April to move out, the letter indicated.
The Town Council had no immediate reaction when Ralph Vazquez, a founder of the Workers group, read the letter into the public record.
Outside the meeting, Town Manager Mike Scanlon told The Aspen Times that the project would be most efficient if the town’s contractor tackles it all at once rather than demobilizing and remobilizing. He said the town might assess whether residents could be given until the end of the school year before they must leave the mobile home park.
Of the 38 spaces in the Pan and Fork, three were unoccupied or the trailers were abandoned prior to the town project. The town has negotiated financial settlement packages with occupants of 20 of the remaining 35 trailers, according to Judi Tippetts, assistant town manager. Settlement arrangements are pending with at least one other family, she said.
Families generally have received between $15,000 and $22,000 for down payments on housing purchases or deposits on rental housing.
Representatives for Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt have said in prior meetings that they want the town to offer alternative housing at a similar size and price to what they have now. They want to relocate rather than get a financial payment that doesn’t help them in the long run.
Members of the group have called the town’s plan eviction rather than relocation. Defenders of the effort note that the town doesn’t have a legal responsibility to give the residents anything more than 30 days notice to vacate.
The town is looking at three affordable housing options with public and private partners as possible alternatives, but the funding and timing of those projects are uncertain.