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Candidates mull future of Basalt’s mobile home parks

Editor’s note: As part of our coverage of the Basalt municipal election, The Aspen Times has asked the two mayoral and five council candidates to share their backgrounds and views on issues that have been on the front burner in Basalt over the past year.

This is the third of four days of answers from the candidates. Today’s question is about the future of the two riverfront trailer parks in town. The answers of the candidates for mayor will appear in Thursday’s Times.

What should be done with the Roaring Fork and Pan and Fork mobile home parks?

Name: Jim Paussa

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Position sought: Council

Basalt is committed to helping the residents who are in danger from flooding. There is an ordinance that requires the town to either provide replacement housing for anyone it displaces or pay them for their property. This helps ensure they can’t be told to move and then ignored.

The idea is not to find a solution for them but, rather, help them with the solutions they want. The town has an open line of communication with both neighborhoods. The challenge is to move them to higher ground and keep them as members of the community.

The land issue itself is very sensitive. This property is along the river, and our rivers are to Basalt what Aspen Mountain is to Aspen. We need to address the safety issue, the recreational access issue and wetland preservation issue. Fishing brings over $2 million to the local economy annually.

Name: Bernie Grauer

Position sought: Council

The redevelopment of the two riverfront mobile home parks is necessary to address public safety concerns about flooding risks. It will essentially define the future character of Basalt’s downtown.

Unfortunately, the mobile home parks’ redevelopment will require the relocation of most of the town’s truly affordable housing.

Preserving our small-town character should be based on small-scale, mainly retail, businesses mixed with residential development, to ensure the continued economic and social vitality of the town core. The existing Midland Avenue bridge across the Roaring Fork River makes the perfect pedestrian connection linking the two sides of the river.

Any development should provide for substantial public open space along the riverfront. The building elevations should not be so tall that they isolate the town core.

The town should work with the developers and nonprofit organizations to provide attainable and low-income replacement housing to the existing mobile home park residents on a favorable basis.

Lodging development, particularly boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, should be considered for these areas. The lodging properties would provide the necessary consumer pedestrian traffic to support the continued economic vitality of the downtown.

Name: Laurie Dows

Position sought: Council

This is a pivotal moment in Basalt governance. So far the current council has done a good job in maintaining good communication with the residents of these two mobile home parks, and the new council will need to uphold the same level of communication.

The river master plan has already laid out the fundamental guidelines to resolve this issue by either providing alternate housing or paying residents for their property. How these details are worked out will be the next council’s top priority, keeping in mind that the goal is to move the residents to safer ground and still keep them a part of Basalt’s community.

Name: Mark Kittle

Position sought: Council

I feel that the residents should have a suitable place to relocate at an equitable cost and the area should be cleaned up with some strategically placed, low-impact development of some type, finished off with some trails and pocket parks.

Name: Glenn Rappaport

Position sought: Council

These mobile home parks are in the center of town and on the river. That makes them valuable pieces of real estate containing only a handful of trailers. They also contain some of the best affordable housing in the valley, and are vibrant and distinct neighborhoods.

We all know that these parcels will inevitably be redeveloped. When and how are the real questions. I feel it is premature for me to talk specifically about an issue that will most certainly be a future land-use application. I would prefer to make my decision regarding a particular proposal after being presented with all of the pertinent information.

We all know that any citizen has the right to come to the town and make their pitch. In my view, it is the job of the trustees to consider the merits of a particular application, the citizen responses to it, and how it interprets all of the long-range planning and economic strategies that the community has adopted before reaching a decision.


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