City awards residents money

Westland mobile-home owners to receive average of $19,400

Alexis DeLaCruz

— Westland Mobile Home Park residents breathed a sigh of relief Thursday night after the Steamboat Springs City Council decided to award the group members $550,000 for the loss of their homes.

After spending two hours discussing a plan proposed by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and hearing from several of the mobile-home park residents, the City Council voted, 6 to 1, to award the money using a graduated formula for the 28 homes in the park.

The benefit works out to an average of $19,400 per mobile home.

Until Thursday, residents were unsure about what kind of relocation assistance they would get from the city. The relocation money came after the city approved a plan for Riverwalk, a mixed-use development that will replace the mobile-home park along the Yampa River near the Fifth Street Bridge.

Riverwalk will include 72 res–i–dential units, seven deed-res–tricted affordable units, 35 hotel rooms, more than 32,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 underground parking garage spaces.

The Housing Authority plan, which was presented to the City Council in April, was based on an earlier meeting, during which council members said they would donate $250,000 to the residents for relocation assistance. Jim Cook, the Riverwalk project developer, said he would match the $250,000.

During Thursday night’s meeting, council members ag—-reed that about $550,000 was more appropriate to distribute to the residents.

The council also discussed when the funds would be distributed and how to determine how much each resident, mobile-home owner or renter would receive.

After some debate, members agreed the Housing Authority should consider each resident’s situation and distribute money with a graduated formula based on length of ownership or resident status.

Mobile-home values were assessed using 2003 values because the homes were worth more in 2003, the year the developer took ownership of the park.

As part of the vote Thursday, the council agreed to a first reading of the Riverwalk final development plan June 27 and a final reading July 18.

Cook told the council he was willing to advance the money to the city before final approval of the plan.

“The offer is to put the money out there early for no veiled reason, other than it’s summer and these people would like to get on with their lives,” Cook said. “We’re trying to find a way to get this money into these people’s hands soon.”

Council member Towny And–erson said that no matter how much each resident receives, the city is doing something that most communities would never do by compensating the mobile-home owners for evicting them.

“What we’re doing is truly extraordinary, and I think we’ll find that out as other towns find out what we’ve done,” he said.

Council members also discussed whether the city should regulate how residents would spend the money.

Most council members ag—-reed that doing so was impossible and unnecessary.

“There should not be strings attached to this. I don’t see why we need to spend a lot of time tracking where the money goes,” Council member Paul Strong said.

Before the meeting ended, Cook, Westland resident Chris–tina Allevato and Dream Island Mobile Home Park resident Bobbi Hodge were commended by the council for their efforts in helping the city decide how to compensate the Westland residents.

“You have, indeed, made a difference,” council President Ken Brenner said.

Hodge and Allevato agreed the city has set a precedent for how to handle similar situations.

“We were just trying to protect the future of mobile-home owners,” Allevato said. You have made a difference in this community.”

— To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail

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