Editorial: Playing it straight with Pan and Fork residents
December 11, 2013
The Basalt town government's latest action with the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park residents is both commendable and risky.
Town Manager Mike Scanlon told a faction of mobile-home park residents Monday night that there may be an affordable-housing project constructed in one year where some of them may be able to buy a unit.
Scanlon deserves kudos for working with the residents, who are unified in a group called Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt. The residents, many of them longtime residents of the Pan and Fork, said the financial aid the town is providing for relocation isn't enough to help them. They are concerned they won't be able to afford alternative housing in Basalt. They want to remain part of the town, where many have children in school.
We hope Scanlon didn't give them false hope, despite good intentions, by suggesting a project could be finished in one year. The town and possibly some partners first must purchase the land for an affordable-housing project. The site being examined is in Basalt's Southside neighborhood and would require annexation into the town.
Lining up the financing, closing on the land, getting approval for the project and completing construction appears to be a hefty load to bear in just one year. Plus, the town also must work with residents to see who qualifies to buy a unit. There will be challenges for some residents to qualify for financing and others to prove they are in the country legally.
The residents must move out of the Pan and Fork by late April so the town can proceed with the second phase of a project to ease the flooding threat of the Roaring Fork River and restore riverbanks. Scanlon was up front by informing the residents that they would be required to move into temporary accommodations while the affordable-housing project was being pursued. We have a sneaking suspicion that temporary housing might not end up being so temporary.
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The residents already feel that one promise of replacement housing was broken. Scanlon and the town need to temper expectations. What the mobile-home park residents need to hear is that in all likelihood, the affordable-housing project will take more than one year to complete.
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