Tuesday, October 9, 2001
Steamboat Springs All nine mobile home owners in the Trailer Haven Park at Third Street and Fish Creek Falls Road have agreed to make room for new tennis courts at Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation.
The homeowners have signed agreements that say their homes will be removed by July 1, 2002, said Stuart Handloff, president of Health and Rec's board of directors. In exchange, each will receive a $4,000 cash settlement and will not have to pay to have the individual trailers hauled away.
Among the nine homeowners, Doug Lockwood counts himself among the most fortunate, or least unfortunate his mobile home is about six years old and solid enough to be sold and moved to another location. All but perhaps one other home in the park are destined for the landfill, Lockwood predicted.
"The community has lost nine affordable homes," Lockwood said. "As a group, we didn't have the financial stamina to continue the fight. It was easier to concede a loss and let them have their way. I caved and signed the agreement."
Handloff said pending city approvals, Health and Rec would like to begin construction on the new tennis courts, across Fish Creek Falls Road from the existing facility, sometime next year. The old tennis courts would make room for additional at-grade parking.
Health and Rec purchased the trailer park in May 2000 with indefinite expansion plans. However, the board made it clear it did not want to act as landlord to the trailer park.
Like residents of most trailer parks, the people at Trailer Haven owned their homes but did not have title to the lots beneath them, paying rent instead.
When the mobile home park sold to a buyer with other plans, the homeowners found themselves in a jam.
Handloff said the offer accepted by the homeowners was not that different from the one the board offered within the first few months after it purchased the trailer park for more than $600,000.
Just the same, he said, there was not unanimity among the board of the nonprofit organization about the final offer to the homeowners.
"There was still a lot of arguing back and forth," Handloff said.
Health and Rec, one of Steamboat's longest-standing community organizations, manages geothermal hot springs, a lap pool and exercise facilities. Local residents may purchase annual memberships, and visitors to Steamboat may purchase daily passes to the pool and a water slide.
Handloff said the board is looking for a contractor who will combine the demolition and removal of trailer homes left behind by their owners in a package deal including construction of the new tennis courts and parking lot.
That arrangement will allow Health and Rec to haul away the abandoned mobile homes at no charge to their owners, Handloff said.
Handloff said owners will still be expected to remove personal items and clean up their sites, including proper disposal of refrigerators.
Property owners who choose not to participate in the cleanup will only receive $3,500 instead of the full $4,000.
Lockwood said although his trailer is fit to be moved, he cannot locate an available lot in a local mobile home park.
Instead, he has listed his trailer for sale at $34,000, a price he says would allow him to recoup his investment, in hopes that someone will purchase it and move it to a town outside Routt County.
As for Lockwood, he feels disenfranchised.
"I have a good job (at the city transit department) and I'll continue working through the winter," he said. "But the one inevitability is that I'm being chased out of this community."