Homes headed to reservation

Riverwalk donates Westland trailers to Sioux in South Dakota

Mike Lawrence
Riverwalk Steamboat is donating salvageable mobile homes from the Westland Mobile Home Park to the Oglala Sioux Park Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Tyler Arroyo

To help

People interested in providing winter clothes, toiletries, nonperishable food or other gifts to residents of the Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota can call the main office of Colorado Group Realty at 870-8800.

Gifts will be transported with mobile homes from Westland.

— Some of the trailers in Westland Mobile Home Park will be put to good use rather than being demolished.

Developer Jim Cook has announced that at least five homes from the park will be transported to the Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Homes from the park will be taken to the reservation this month, at the expense of development group Riverwalk Steamboat, managed by Cook.

“I heard about the plight of the Native Americans living on the Pine Reservation : and knew there was something we could do to help,” Cook said. “With the recent acquisition of the mobile homes in Westland, it only made sense that we try to put them to use at the reservation.”

Westland Mobile Home Park was vacated last month to allow for construction of the Riverwalk development, a mixed-use project along the Yampa River east of Fifth Street. Riverwalk will include 72 residential units, 35 hotel rooms, seven units of affordable housing and more than 32,000 square feet of commercial space, along with public river access, plazas and a children’s fountain.

Nearly all of the 39 mobile homes at Westland were slated for demolition. One owner moved a Westland home to another site.

The city of Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority compensated Westland homeowners with payments that averaged $19,400. Most homeowners chose to surrender their homes because of the structures’ old age or high cost of removal.

But Cook said Riverwalk Steamboat is preparing as many of the mobile homes as possible for a trip to South Dakota.

“The tribe has so little of anything that any kind of reasonable shelter would be welcome,” Cook said. “In the final analysis, if we can do something good with the homes, that’s the direction we want to go.”

The Pine Ridge Reservation has 1,700 homes for its 48,000 residents, with an unemployment rate of nearly 80 percent, according to statistics presented by Colorado Group Realty, the parent organization of Riverwalk Steamboat.

Cook said he learned about the reservation from Noel West Lane III, founder of a Conifer development group. Lane recently transported more than 20 mobile homes to the reservation from an Estes Park mobile-home community that Lane is redeveloping.

“This generous gift from Jim is critically needed and greatly appreciated,” Lane said. “Right now, living on the reservation is like living in a Third World country – 22 people living in a small house, a young couple with new twins living in a tent, a family of five living in a van.”

Cook said he plans to fill at least one of the Westland mobile homes with winter clothing, nonperishable foods, toiletries and other gifts, through efforts spearheaded by Colorado Group Realty.

Cook said Riverwalk Steam-

boat has contracted with individual haulers and a Conifer group that manages mobile-home transportation.

“They’ll find a way to get the homes there,” Cook said.

Demolishing the homes costs about $4,500 per unit, while transporting them will cost about $7,000 per unit, Cook said.

Elizabeth Black, executive director of the housing authority, said she is glad the homes are going to a good use.

“I think a lot of the (Westland) residents left the homes in pretty solid shape,” Black said. “I’m glad that he is doing this.”

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