Water woes lead to ire at trailer park | AspenTimes.com

Water woes lead to ire at trailer park

Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park resident Irma Diaz lifts the cover to a water-filled hole, the result of a water line leak. Residents claim park management was slow to fix the problem. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

A protest by residents of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park was averted Monday after a repair crew arrived to fix a water line leak.Frustration with the failing infrastructure at the aging mobile home park in the heart of Basalt boiled over last week among the mostly Latino residents, according to some residents. A main water line within the park started leaking on June 2, swamping yards, driveways and roads.Affected residents felt management was slow to respond to the problem, according to two women who asked not to be identified. One said management was informed of the problem on June 5.By Friday, residents of more than a dozen trailers decided to take matters into their own hands by withholding their monthly rent; they planned to use the money to fix the water line if their complaints went unanswered, according to one of the sources. She pays nearly $600 per month for her space, which she believes is the standard rate in the park.

They didn’t fear being evicted because so many residents were participating in the effort, she said.”We all speak the same language. We were going to be united,” the woman said.Repeated efforts to reach trailer park manager Debbie Alcorta on Monday were unsuccessful. Pan and Fork owner Renee Ritchie was not available for comment, either.Frustrated residents complained to the town of Basalt and Eagle County while they waited for the water leak to be fixed.Basalt Public Works Director John Wenzel said a town water department worker investigated on June 3 or 4 and determined the problem was with a private line rather than a town water main. The public water system feeds the private water lines in the trailer park. The town worker also determined the leak was with potable water.

As the water supplier, the town could have shut down the water supply, but it didn’t want to affect 15 or so families, Wenzel said. The management of the park was told it was responsible for fixing the problem, he said.An undetermined amount of water leaked from the pipe. The trailer park will be charged for the water once the meters are read, Wenzel said.The management apparently started to address the problem late last week when it hired a local plumbing company to isolate the leak. A crew turned off water in at least part of the park Monday morning and dug out the line.But the two Latina residents said the problem should have been fixed sooner – before yards became too muddy for kids to play. They said other problems, ranging from a broken sewer line to large potholes, also have gone unattended for varying lengths of time.Wenzel confirmed that a town code enforcement officer reported in May that a sewer line appeared to be leaking into a ditch that runs through the trailer park. One resident said a strong stench came from a stream where kids often play.

The town investigated the leak and notified the park managers they were responsible for fixing it. Wenzel said two or three families renting at the park were relocated by the park owner to a hotel while the sewage line was repaired.Susan Shirley, director of Mountain Regional Housing, said her organization is aware of complaints about the infrastructure at the Pan and Fork. Mountain Regional Housing is a nonprofit group that is working with residents of the trailer park to help them find alternative housing. Basalt has declared relocation of the 40 or so families in the park a high priority because of the potential for a catastrophic flood. The trailer park is located along the Roaring Fork River, just upstream from the Taqueria el Nopal restaurant, and protected only by a makeshift levee.Shirley said the trailer park owner has responded to complaints by saying there aren’t enough funds for repairs because some tenants skip paying their monthly rent.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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