EVICTED: Aleutian Village says the park is closing
City to hold open house Wednesday to address resident's concerns
Residents of Aleutian Village Trailer Park will be forced to move - along with the mobile homes - after the park's owners mailed certified notices to tenants stating that the park is closing next summer.
"Aleut Real Estate, LLC intends to cease its operation of the Aleutian Village Trailer Park," the notice reads.
The interim city manager, Robert Jean, held an open house for residents and owners Wednesday night at city council chambers to listen to concerns.
"There will be discussion about how to move a process forward to develop community solutions," Lisa Von Bargen, the city's director of economic development, said in an email to the Valdez Star Tuesday morning. "This will be followed by a special meeting with the City Council on Monday, 9/21."
Rumors of the park's closing began last Thursday when Roger Kipar, a local contractor who handles a number of issues in the park on behalf of Aleut Real Estate, announced the park would be closing at last Wednesday's Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.
Kipar is also a commissioner for Planning & Zoning. His phone was not accepting phone calls when the Valdez Star attempted to contact him for comments on the closure.
The letter received by residents says that Alaska statutes state that mobile home owners must be given 270 days notice to vacate property and that owners cannot be forced to move their homes between October 15 and May1.
The letter gives owners a quit time date of 11:59 p.m. on August 31, 2016.
"I'm not going to do anything until next spring," said Don Payne, a resident concerned about the mass eviction.
Payne wondered what will happen with the 60-70 trailers - and the people who live in them.
"Half of those trailers can't be moved," he said. "I, fortunately, can move."
Kori Ragan, who lives in a mobile home she owns in the park, falls into that category.
She says she paid $25,000 for her home, which cannot be moved. Having just learned of the eviction, she was unsure of her next step.
"I can't afford to move anywhere," she said.
Like many Aleutian Village residents, Ragan said she planned on living there until her retirement in four to five years, and plans to move out of state to a home she owns in the Lower 48.
Melvin Smith, general manager for Aleut Real Estate, LLC - which is a holding company for the Aleut Corporation - did not immediately return messages to the Valdez Star that asked what the Native Corporation intends to do with the land it leases from Alaska Dept. of Transportation.
"It is my understanding 68 households are affected," Von Bargen said.
Gayle Renardson, who also owns a mobile home in the park as temporary living quarters, was stumped when asked what will be her next move.
"I do not have clue," she said. "I want to know what the city's going to do."
A number of residents in the park have lived there since they were children and opted to raise their own families in the park.
Park management in the recent past has demolished abandoned trailers and has been quick at sending eviction notices to lessors who get behind on their space rent.
Rumors about the park's future have abounded since the closure was announced.
The letter residents began receiving Monday is curt and to the point, warning owners of the consequences of not upholding their current lease agreements and what will happen if mobile homes are not moved next year by the end of August.
"Your lease will terminate as of that time," the letter says. "Up until that time, any and all trailers/owners/tenants in the Park will be held accountable and obligated under their Leases and Rules of the Park. If a trailer is still in the Park after that date, a lawsuit may be filed in court to remove the trailer and recover possession of the land, in which case you could be responsible not only for the costs of removing the trailer but also for our attorneys' fees."
The letter also encouraged those with questions to call Smith at (907) 561-4300.