Woody Creek: a case of good government and good results
January 9, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoSometimes the wheels of government appear to be stuck. Such could be said of the decade-long process to turn the Woody Creek Trailer Park from a renters’ to a homeowners’ paradise.But the end result – 58 new lots for sale at affordable prices – is a clear indication that government here in the Roaring Fork Valley can and does often work for the betterment of our community.Since the mid-1990s, residents of the trailer park have been pining for a deal similar to those that turned Aspen Village and Lazy Glen, two trailer parks in Pitkin County, into bona fide neighborhoods filled with homeowners. In both cases, many of the residents were longtime residents of the valley who were paying a few hundred dollars a month in rent for the land their single- and double-wide trailers sat on.Once the deals at Aspen Village and Lazy Glen were complete, new homeowners suddenly had the right, and the incentive, to build whatever they wanted (within limits). They dug basements, put up stick-built homes, bought new modular homes, fixed up the old trailer or left things just the way they always have been. The cool thing is, it’s their choice because it’s their property.Local government has had a hand in making all three deals work. In the Woody Creek case, it was Pitkin County and the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority that used their negotiating skills and financial resources to help residents realize the American Dream. By hammering out a deal with Mary Jane Garth, the former owner of the trailer park, and then buying the land with housing money, the two bought residents at Woody Creek the time they needed to work out pricing and make badly needed improvements to the infrastructure.As of Sunday, 20 people had bought the land under their trailers and three others were under contract. When it’s all said and done, there will be 58 new landowners in Pitkin County. The county and the housing authority did negotiate restrictions on price increase and ownership eligibility, but the generous Category 6 pricing and the rule that owners be actual residents don’t seem overly restrictive.So welcome to all the new and soon-to-be-new homeowners. We’re glad you’ve got a place so close to Aspen. And thanks to the government agencies that made it all possible.