Basalt plots course to buy trailer park
BASALT ” The Basalt Town Council is forging ahead with a plan to seek voter approval for $5 million in funding in April to buy a trailer park in the heart of town.
The council gave final approval Tuesday evening to purchase the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park from current owner Renee Ritchie’s RNR Ltd. The contract for the deal will expire if voters refuse to allow the town government to issue general obligation bonds for the purchase. The bonds would be paid off through a property tax increase.
The Town Council also voted Tuesday night to take the formal steps needed to place the question on the April 4 ballot. Both measures passed unanimously, 6-0, with little discussion.
If the deal goes through, the town government will become landlord of an aging and somewhat dilapidated trailer park that is home for 37 families. The current rent for trailer space is $615 per month, creating a revenue stream of $273,060 annually for the landlord.
An inspection of the property by a consultant for the town concluded it may require about $80,000 for upgrades to utilities and infrastructure over the next three to five years, town officials said.
The town government hopes it isn’t a landlord for long. Ultimately, it intends to relocate residents of the mobile home park to safe, alternative housing within Basalt. Town studies have concluded that the Pan and Fork is in danger of a catastrophic flood. The mobile home park is located along the Roaring Fork River.
Some makeshift levees are all that protect it from flood waters.
The Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park is located across Two Rivers Road from the Basalt library and upvalley from Tacqueria el Nopal restaurant.
The town government’s goal is to offer residents housing in projects built by developers over the next several years. The relocation of Pan and Fork residents won’t happen all at once. It will be phased over several years, Town Manager Bill Efting said.
If residents don’t accept offers to move into replacement housing, they will eventually be forced to move out and find their own accommodations.
Town officials want to redevelop the portion of the 5.3-acre property closest to Two Rivers Road, which isn’t in the flood way. The land near the river would be preserved as open space that connects to the existing Old Pond Park. That fits with the town’s vision to create linear parks whenever possible along its rivers.
The contract with RNR Ltd. is for $4.5 million. Associated costs could drive the deal closer to $5 million. Efting told the council that officials from a bond company working with the town advised him that the higher amount should be sought from voters, with the understanding that it might not all be spent. They advised the town not to seek some odd amount, like $4.95 million.
“Their feeling was you don’t want to sound like a used-car salesman,” Efting said.
Details of how the town intends to pull off the relocation of residents hasn’t been released yet. They will likely emerge during the campaign.
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Highway 82 is closed in both directions Wednesday morning after a multiple vehicle crash, according to a Pitkin County alert.