Park residents get reprieve

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— With no plans to develop tennis courts on the property this summer, the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association may allow the residents of Trailer Haven to stay on the land for another year.

It will be more than two years from the time the recreation association bought the Trailer Haven trailer park before the nonprofit organization begins construction on the site.

And, though the association had nailed down Aug. 6 as the eviction date for the residents of the trailer park, it would be willing to let them stay for almost another entire year if they agree to leave at that point, said Stuart Handloff, the president of the recreation association's board.

The association purchased the land on which the trailers sit from private owners last May.

The trailer owners are of a few different minds on the next step for the group, which has had an increasingly adversarial relationship with the recreation association. The trailer owners have looked to the Regional Affordable Living Foundation to help them find a way to either find a new place to live or move their trailers to a new site.

RALF, after looking to move the trailers to a site just west of the county jail off of U.S. 40, has encountered some potential obstacles to that plan. The site has flood plain issues and has wetlands on it that would make development difficult, said Rob Dick, the executive director of RALF.

Dick, however, has been able to find financing that could get some of the trailer owners into duplexes on the site of RALF's West End Village project. Although RALF has not yet purchased the land for West End Village, Dick said the group has been told by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it will help the trailer owners get into the duplexes by offering them low-interest loans. Those loans could have interest rates as low as 1 percent, depending on the person's needs, Dick said.

Some of the trailer owners, however, may not be willing to accept the association's deal that would allow them to stay for another year, according to Trailer Haven resident Doug Lockwood. Lockwood said the residents, only a handful of whom can even move their trailers, may want money to make up for their loss.

"They have no plans for the site, yet they're still insisting on evicting and it's costing us money to fight this thing," Lockwood said. Some of the people who live at Trailer Haven still have $20,000 invested in their trailers and will lose their entire investment, Lockwood said.

Matt Mraz, another Trailer Haven resident, said he would like to get into the West End Village project, but said the trailer owners are allowing attorney Bob Weiss to speak for them in terms of their dealings with the recreation association.

Weiss was unavailable for comment.

Resident Seth Bograd said he is less interested in the legal battle that may ensue and merely wants to find a new place to live.

He said he does not want the recreation association's money. Bograd added that he is frustrated that it has taken so much of a struggle to get the recreation association to give the residents more time.

Handloff said the association may still be willing to pay the owners $4,000 to move their trailers so it will not have to move them itself.

The board had initially approved $4,000 for each owner able to remove his or her trailer by May 1.

The board would have to vote again to extend the deadline, but would likely be supportive of that move, Handloff said.

He added that he was surprised and disappointed to hear that some people still wanted money to compensate them, even though the association is willing to let them stay longer.

"It's become a money issue, not about finding a place to live," Handloff said.

While the association will not be doing any construction on the land this year, they expect to begin next summer and would want the residents off by June 1, 2002. If the residents do not agree to that date, however, the Aug. 6 eviction will be enforced, Handloff said.

City Councilman Ken Brenner, who also works for the recreation association, said the association bought the Trailer Haven property not just to build tennis courts and free up parking, but to meet

the community's long-term recreation needs.

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