Trailer park purchase helps preserve housing
Pitkin County’s commissioners, who have been looking for ways to increase affordable housing options in the upper Roaring Fork Valley, agreed Wednesday to spend as much as $7.5 million to buy the Phillips Mobile Home Park in Old Snowmass.
“What this acquisition does, principally, is keep 60 people in their homes,” county attorney John Ely said. “There’s no way our current affordable-housing inventory could accommodate them. They would be in dire straits.”
The purchase includes 76.3 acres spanning the Roaring Fork River along Lower River Road.
Commissioner Michael Owsley, who will retire at the end of the year after three terms on the county board, echoed those comments.
“This is a deep commitment on the part of the county to its citizens,” said commissioner Michael Owsley, who is completing his third and final term on the board. “This property presents infinite possibilities for the betterment of life in Pitkin County.”
This is the fourth trailer park to be preserved by the county.
If the property were sold to a private developer, it likely would be divided into two or three large, singlefamily home sites, Pitkin County manager Jon Peacock said.
However, the family that has owned the property since 1933 does not want to evict the residents, and so they offered it to the county, Ely said.
It will be up to the county board to later decide whether to subdivide the property and create lots for “stick-built houses,” modular housing or possibly “tiny houses,” or simply maintain the status quo, Ely said. In addition, the property includes three large, irrigated fields with water rights and an undeveloped southern portion, he said.
Some of the property could be sold for open space and river management. That money would be put back into the county’s affordable-housing fund, Ely said.
The money to buy the property will come from the county’s Employee Housing Impact Fee, according to a proposed ordinance approving the purchase.
The final purchase price will be based on inspection of the property and infrastructure. The current septic system is overtaxed and will have to be upgraded, though it continues to function adequately, Ely said.
The purchase of the Phillips property is part of a renewed effort by Pitkin County to provide more affordable housing, Peacock said. The county plans to spend $9 million in 2017 to expand those efforts, he has said.
Commissioner Patti Clapper, a resident of Smuggler Trailer Park in Aspen, was particularly supportive of the Phillips purchase. Close proximity to neighbors that trailer parks provide engenders a sense of community, she said.
“I live in a 1967 singlewide trailer,” she said. “It’s one of the best places to live in the county. It’s critical to make this happen.”
Pitkin County commissioners have agreed to purchase the Phillips Mobile Home Park in Old Snowmass. The deal includes 76.3 acres spanning the Roaring Fork River along Lower River Road. Anna Stonehouse, Aspen Times