Skico tells Basalt campground tenants they’re out in May | AspenTimes.com

Skico tells Basalt campground tenants they’re out in May

Aspen Skiing Co. has notified longtime tenants of the Aspen Basalt Campground that they must vacate by May because the company is going to start operating more of a standard, short-term RV park.

In a letter addressed to "Dear long-term campers," Skico's manager informed tenants that Skico was going to restrict stays in 56 spaces to 21 days, with at least one week between visits, from May through September, according to the letter. Twelve other sites will have a three-month minimum stay from June 1 to Sept. 1. Those sites will not be available to campers who stayed the winter.

"It's a decision reached by the executive committee of Aspen Skiing Co.," said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.

The policy change will affect between 20 and 25 families and individuals that rent year-round, Hanle said, and 15 summer seasonal campers.

Skico purchased the RV park, a former KOA Campground, in 2008. It is located just off Highway 82 adjacent to the Mid Valley Medical Clinic. When Skico closed the deal, it put residents at the time on notice that changes in use would be made. The intent was to explore construction of an affordable-housing project at the site.

"This should not come as a giant surprise," Hanle said.

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The letter from the park manager acknowledges the problems the change will create for some tenants.

"We understand this will be a big change for everybody, for longer than I can remember this place has been home to many people, individuals and families and their first home in the Roaring Fork Valley," wrote manager Brian Anzini. "When the campground was purchased, it was to be redeveloped in a year or two, so it was allowed to continue as it was.

"Had we known seven years would go by we would have, and should have, restructured it years ago," Anzini said.

Tenants pay $750 per month for the space and hookups for sewer, water and electricity. Skico employees pay $650 per month.

One longtime resident said it will be impossible to find similar affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley now that rents are skyrocketing. In addition, there are no other RV parks between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

"We own these. Where do we go?" said the renter, who asked to not be named for fear of retribution before May.

If they must find more conventional housing, where will they store their RVs, he asked. "How do we pay for it?" he said.

The tenant said the long-term residents include grandmothers, emergency dispatchers, Latinos and other longtime local workers.

"It's been a great community. Everybody knows everybody," the tenant said.

The south half of the RV park is where the longer-term tenants are parked. The campground is tidy. Some of the RVs have a well-worn look. Most of the rigs have skirts around the wheel wells and bumpers. They have backyards where many have potted flowers and fencing. It has a feel of permanence.

The front of the park is reserved for short-term tenants. Fancier RVs were parked there Wednesday.

Hanle said Skico officials understand the concerns of the tenants and "we're concerned about those families." They will be charged the regular rent over the next eight months.

The fact that the Aspen Basalt Campground is the only RV park in the valley makes it a potentially lucrative business. Hanle said many international travelers don't even turn off Interstate 70 into the valley because there are few options for them to stay. Nightly rates will be available.

"We think now is the time to make the change," Hanle said. "We don't know that's what we'll be looking at long term."

In the long run it could still be affordable housing, he said.

Hanle said the Kum & Go gas and convenience store chain has inquired about buying space at the RV park for a retail operation. No offer has been made, he said, and Skico hasn't assessed if it would sell any of the site. The property being examined wouldn't reduce the number of RV spaces, according to Hanle.

The Aspen Basalt Campground is surrounded by Basalt but it is located outside of the town's boundaries and in unincorporated Eagle County.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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