The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By LEE REVIS
Editor, Valdez Star 

Eviction still a possibility for Aleutian Village residents

Buying time to stop closure is city's best bet for now city officials say

 

Graphic/City of Valdez

Only four households in Aleutian Village trailer park say no assistance would be needed to relocate if it were to close according to a survey conducted by Sheinberg Associates.

Buying time is critical to bringing a successful outcome for residents living at the trailer park that is threatened with closure.

That is the message given to residents and owners of mobile homes located in Aleutian Trailer Park.

Robert Jean, the city's outgoing interim city manager, gave residents of the park an update on administration's progress in thwarting the mass eviction at a town hall meeting Friday.

Jean said city administration needs more time to complete a tentative plan that would convert the trailer park into a subdivision.

Under that scenario, mobile home owners will be made offers by this city to buy the land they are currently renting from the Aleut Corporation.

He said the concept would require working hand-in-hand with the Aleutian Corporation to extend the current eviction date from the end of August to the end of October so that city officials will have more time to facilitate a deal to purchase the land from the state of Alaska.

If the city is successful in negotiating a deal purchase of land, it would create what Jean called " a go" situation.

The Aleut Corporation would continue to operate the park for an estimated two years while city officials make the actual purchase, worked through rezoning issues and get the okay from the FAA to create the subdivision that would also allow for structures with foundations.

The Aleutian Corporation would still be required to run the park for about two years while the city rolls up it sleeves to overcome numerous other hurdles it will need to jump to make the switch from a privately held park to an owner occupied subdivision.

Previously plans that would have created a home owners association to run the park under private ownership does not make financial sense Jean said.

The Aluet Corporation has reportedly been operating the park at a loss for the past few years. In return for continuing to run the park, the city would be required to sign agreement with the corporation to free it from costs associated with closing the park.

"It's cheaper than closing the park," Jean told the residents, explaining that the corporation would lose less money under this type of an agreement.

Jean said the Aleut Corporation wants to get out of the mobile home park business and the city does not want to become a developer, so selling the land to residents and future developers would be critical.

If the city it is not successful in negotiating a deal with the State to purchase the land, the park could very well still close and a "no go" plan will go into effect.

Under the "no go" scenario, park residents would have an additional three months to move their homes to other locations in city officials would have more time to develop a plan to help dislocated residents.

"I'm feeling cautiously optimistic we're going to pull this off," Jean told the residents at the meeting.

The Valdez City Council expressed reluctance to release the Aleut Corporation from its financial obligations in the event the park does indeed close.

It also had more questions than answers regarding what kind of help would be offered to mobile home owners in the park should it close.

At the town hall meeting with residents, Jean said he believed the "go plan" had a 90 percent chance of success, but that 10 percent chance of closure is very real.

"We never promised anybody the park wouldn't close," he said to council, "and that is still a possibility."

This is Jean's last week as interim city manager, and he will be passing the issue to the new city manager, Dennis Ragsdale.

Attendees at Friday's meeting suggested that it may be to the city's advantage to retain Jean as a negotiator with Aleutian Corporation, a possibility he did not dismiss, saying he would leave that decision to Ragsdale.

 

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