Basalt trailer park residents still hopeful
Aspen Times Staff Writer
An “open dialogue” between an Illinois developer and residents of the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park will continue in the coming weeks, both parties say.
Though park residents voted last Thursday to turn down developer David Fiore’s offer of relocation, and have also failed to come up with enough money to buy the park property, they will not be evicted from their homes any time soon.
Fiore said he would “be there for the long haul” as he looked for a solution favorable to both investors and park residents. As Fiore looks to buy the park, he will also look to provide an affordable housing alternative to those displaced by his proposed development of the property.
“We are committed to that, and I can even tell them that we wouldn’t even think to do that [evict] without finding an affordable housing solution,” Fiore said.
Fiore said Monday that he has hired a planning group that specializes in riverfront property development to take a look at the park. He will also be in town next week for a zoning meeting in order to discuss the proposed development – and, he says, to continue negotiations with the mobile home park’s concerned residents.
“I believe, and I’m still committed, to working with the homeowners, which I expressed to them at the outset,” Fiore said. “I believe the solution that’s going to work best on our development is the solution that’s going to work best for everybody.”
The process of accommodating both park residents and development plans is “a balancing act,” Fiore said, but necessary for the proposed project.
“You’ve got a piece of property that has the potential to add to the attributes to the town – a gateway, a crown jewel – and it’s also important we take care of the homeowners,” he said.
Residents are encouraged by Fiore’s work thus far, said Brian Stahl, president of the park homeowners’ association.
“We’re not going to get flat out evicted – we’re pretty confident of that,” he said.
Negotiations between the two parties are progressing, though “there are still a couple of issues where we didn’t quite meet eye to eye,” Stahl said. These small snags led park residents to turn down Fiore’s original offer – to relocate residents to a new affordable housing development that would replace the 51-unit park.
This proposed development might have been affordable for some Roaring Fork Mobile Home park residents, but not all, Stahl said. Residents also fear a loss of equity with the proposed move.
“Our two issues are home equity and how to convert that into an affordable housing situation,” Stahl said. “We need to figure out how to get people compensated for their homes and into a new home they can afford.”
Fiore has “expressed a desire and a willingness” to help the park with this problem, Stahl said.
“We’re really trying hard to make it work. If we could make it work, it could be good for everybody,” he said.
Park residents are confident that the two groups can reach a compromise “in the near future,” Stahl said.
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After nine months of being shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wheeler Opera House will reopen for local acts. A touchless reservation system will be open to 53 people for in-person at the venue. Online live streaming also will be available.