The town of Basalt’s plan to relocate residents and remove trailers from the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park ratcheted up Wednesday when the first residence was hauled away.
Trailer No. 1 — one of the newest in the park — was purchased by a man who is moving it to Glenwood Springs. The prior owner bought a repossessed trailer in the El Jebel Mobile Home Park and had already moved, according to Judi Tippetts, the town of Basalt’s finance director. She is working with Pan and Fork residents on financial packages as part of the resettlement.
The owner of trailer No. 1 received $22,800 in his settlement with the town, Tippetts said. That included $7,500 for helping get the trailer removed and $5,000 for a down payment on his family’s new residence, she said. The town’s formula also factors in the size of the family and the number of years in the Pan and Fork.
The residence was hauled out Wednesday morning by Storm’s, a Grand Junction company that specializes in moving mobile homes.
Across the street, trailer No. 36 will likely be removed by the end of the week by a different firm, Tippetts said. The family that owns it is relocating the railer to Rifle. They are also aiming to buy a home in the corridor between Glenwood Springs and Rifle, according to Tippetts. Those residents didn’t necessarily want to remain in Basalt after the relocation because they both work at Aspen Glen, she said.
The owners of trailer No. 36 received $23,000, including $7,500 for removing the trailer and not forcing the town to undertake the effort and expense itself, Tippetts said.
In addition to financial settlements, the town is helping residents find new residences to rent or purchase, if they require the assistance.
The town has purchased seven mobile homes in the park so far, according to Tippetts. The effort has been controversial. Some town residents want the town to find land in or around Basalt where the residents can relocate their mobile homes. Other residents don’t believe the town should spend any taxpayer money on the effort.
The residents of the Pan and Fork are overwhelmingly Hispanic. The vast majority cannot provide documentation that they are in the country legally, according to Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon.
In a recent public meeting, Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said the town doesn’t have a legal obligation to help the residents relocate. Officials are making the effort because they believe the town has a moral obligation to help, she said.
Adding fuel to the fire is the town’s alteration of a replacement housing requirement that’s been on the books since 1999. That rule required any developer to replace 100 percent of affordable housing units wiped off a property to make way for a new project. The Town Council replaced that ordinance with a watered-down version.
However, Whitsitt and other town officials contend the replacement housing ordinance as written did nothing to help displaced people. It just dealt with units.
Whitsitt claimed at the recent public meeting that Basalt is taking unprecedented action to help residents who will be displaced.
Tippetts said it’s been a long process to “build some trust” with residents of the Pan and Fork.
“I think they’re both happy with the outcome,” she said of the owners of the first two trailers to be moved.
In addition to acquiring seven trailers, the town is close to purchasing three more, Tippetts said. She said she is meeting with four to six families per month to negotiate settlements.
The Pan and Fork has 38 trailer spaces. One is unoccupied. Two contain abandoned trailers. Settlements have been achieved or are imminent on 10 others. That requires negotiations with owners or renters of 25 more residences.