Trailer park pur­chase helps pre­serve hous­ing

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Ja­son Aus­lan­der

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

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