Basalt Town Council Votes to "Explore Options" proposed by Pan and Fork advocacy group

Dec 11, 2013

The Town of Basalt has been offering cash assistance to families being relocated from the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park. An advocacy group says they'd prefer affordable housing in town.
Credit Marci Krivonen

Elected leaders in the Town of Basalt voted last night to explore alternative options for families being relocated from a trailer park. The Town has been offering cash assistance. But, a group called Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt says it’s not enough to pay Basalt’s high rent prices. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

More than a dozen residents from the Pan and Fork Trailer Park gathered in Town Hall Tuesday night. The group wants the Town to stop relocating people until housing is found in Basalt that is similar in size and price to the trailer park. The residents currently pay $650 a month.

Since August, the Town has been helping families move from the trailer park. Some of the homes sit in a floodplain and the Town has plans to develop a public park at the location.

Town Manager Mike Scanlon says he’s been working with members of the group Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt.

"I’ve always said that the Town would keep as many options as we could for the people that live there, in terms of looking for opportunities to find places for them to live in the community. This particular group thinks we need to do a little more."

For months, Scanlon says he’s been working with Pitkin County to identify potential projects where affordable housing could be built in Basalt.

"I believe there are projects that will come to fruition," he says.

He says trailer park residents who qualify for affordable housing would get first dibs.

Basalt Town Council members agreed they’d like to explore additional options for the concerned group of residents. But, Councilman Herschel Ross says the efforts should be directed at all the residents, not just the advocacy group.

"We’ve been working very hard and put a lot of money into it. I don’t think any of us have any problems with ongoing efforts to help anybody in the park to relocate, but I don’t think it should be limited to this one group," he said.

All six council members approved a resolution to explore options proposed by the Workers for Justice group. The resolution was amended to include all residents of the trailer park, not just the group itself.

After the meeting, Ralph Vasquez said he was happy his advocacy group got the Town’s attention.

"We’ve been taken advantage of before, or lied to before, so we’ve got to stay on our toes, but I’m happy that there’s community support and they’re actually acknowledging that they have dropped the ball on some of these issues."

The group says the Town and the non profit Roaring Fork Community Development Corporation forgot commitments it made to the residents to build affordable housing in Basalt. At one time, that option was discussed but the Roaring Fork CDC says it was too expensive.

Vasquez says he’ll meet with Town Manager Mike Scanlon in a month to follow up.

Already, half of the residents, about 125 people, have moved out of the trailer park and construction work has started there to restore parts of the Roaring Fork River.