Basalt revives goal to redevelop Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park
BASALT – Basalt officials are back to work on a community goal of relocating residents from a mobile home park that faces a potential flood threat, Town Manager Bill Kane said Thursday.
Kane said he has resumed talks with the owner of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park about the town acquiring half of the property that is in the flood plain and preserving it as open space. Owner Renee Ritchie is being encouraged to pursue redevelopment of the remaining half of the 5.3-acre property outside of the flood plain.
The Pan and Fork is in the heart of Basalt, sandwiched along the Roaring Fork River between Midland Avenue and Old Pond Park. Two studies the town commissioned indicate part of the park and the nearby Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park are at high risk of a catastrophic flood.
A river master plan created earlier this decade made it a top priority to relocate the trailer park residents and eliminate development on the flood-prone parts of the properties. Basalt officials have high hopes of turning parts of the river corridor into attractive public places, similar to what Salida, Steamboat Springs and Golden have accomplished.
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The town tried to take the first step to accomplish that goal in April 2008 by asking voters to approve a $5 million property tax increase to buy the Pan and Fork and make emergency repairs to infrastructure. In the campaign, town officials said it would take about 10 years to relocate residents to replacement housing.
Those who voted against the measure prevailed, 270-260. The relocation plan faded until Kane revived it late last year.
Kane, whose background is in planning and design, took the town manager’s post in early 2009 and has brainstormed with the staff on ways to implement the river master plan. His efforts recently expanded to include discussions with the trailer park owners.
While there is no definitive plan, Kane said the concept is to use town open space funds and possibly grants to acquire the half of the Pan and Fork closest to the river. The residents would be relocated over time, the trailers removed and open space preserved.
The town has an existing 1 percent sales tax dedicated to open space and trails purchases and development.
The other part of the property is out of the flood plain and deemed appropriate for development since it is along Two Rivers Road, Kane said. The economy presents an additional hurdle to redevelopment. There is little incentive for property owners and developers to pursue projects right now because of the recession, Kane said. Ritchie, the mobile home park owner, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Relocating residents – or at least offering them a relocation option – also remains as an obstacle. Town regulations require that replacement housing be built for any and all trailers removed. The Pan and Fork has about 37 residences; the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park has about 53.
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