Meeting set on Basalt trailer park issues
December 9, 2013
Basalt town government officials have invited a faction of Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park residents to meet tonight to discuss their complaints about being evicted.
Town Manager Mike Scanlon extended the invitation to the leaders of Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt. He asked them to extend the invitation to the group's members.
"The purpose of the meeting would be to try and understand the demands made by the WJDB and see if there are options we haven't considered that we should be exploring," Scanlon's invitation said.
Ralph Vazquez, an organizer of the trailer-park residents, accepted the invitation on behalf of the group. Scanlon also invited the nonprofit Roaring Fork Community Development Corp., which teamed with the town to buy the mobile-home park. Members of the media were also invited.
The town is paying to have the proceedings translated between English and Spanish. Most of the Pan and Fork residents are Hispanics.
Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt emerged on Dec. 2 with an announcement that its members would reject the financial-settlement packages the town is offering to them to relocate out of the trailer park. They want replacement housing of a similar size and cost instead.
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A spokeswoman for the group said there are nine families totaling 30 people being represented.
The group asked the town to cease the removal of remaining residents until agreements are arranged with all of them. However, they asked that the financial packages remain on the table for those who choose to take them.
When the group emerged, Scanlon said the town couldn't change the rules for the assistance it is offering to mobile-home park residents because it would be unfair to those who have reached a settlement.
The town is using the same formula with all residents to assist with relocation. It provides $100 for each year of residency in the park; $500 per family member up to $3,000; one year of rent at $7,800 and $5,000 for deposits; and for owners, it provides $7,500 if they remove the residence. Many trailers cannot be moved because of their age.
Most residents have received between $15,000 and $22,000. The town was under no legal obligation to offer aid.
There are 38 spaces in the Pan and Fork. One trailer burned down and two were abandoned. The town has negotiated relocations with residents of 17 trailers. Ten mobile homes have been moved and another seven are empty, according to figures provided earlier in the week by Scanlon. Negotiations are ongoing with other residents.
The residents need to be moved because the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park is in the flood plain and studies show it is at high risk if there is a major flood, according to town officials.