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

By LEE REVIS
Editor, Valdez Star 

Aleutian Village residents ask city to reevaluate cost estimate

Jeri Devens represented park dwellers by a show of hands last week

 


Jeri Devens was informally elected spokesperson for Aleutian Village residents, who are facing eviction from the trailer park.

In a meeting between the city council and park residents, Devens asked council to re-evaluate a cost-estimate city administration submitted to council earlier this month that attached a $5 million price tag to a proposal to that would turn the privately owned mobile home park into a city subdivision.

The move would make talks between the city and park residents "...a little more focused..." according to Devens.

The meeting was held to allow park residents time to speak to council regarding the cost estimate, which was not allowed during a previous work session where council first saw the $5 million price.

The original estimate to buy the land and turn the park into a subdivision that had been informally circulated by city administration topped out at $1.2 million.

"Let us know what you got to say so we can give direction to city administration," Mayor Larry Weaver told attendees.

Devens pointed out that the city had expressed interest in acquiring the land the park sits on for development as a subdivision - whether or not the current lease-holders are evicted from the park or not.

If this is the case, Devens said the city should deduct the cost of buying the land from the estimate. She said city development of a new subdivision in the area after residents are evicted would be a great slight.

"It is insulting to us," she said, and suggested the plan should move forward regardless. "You're going to be spending it anyway."

She asked the city to reevaluate the costs and take a fresh look at the subdivision proposal.

"I'm hoping the true cost is somewhere in the middle," she said, between the city older and newer estimates.

She also pointed out redundancies in the cost estimate such as repaving, which is included twice at a cost of $800,000.

Devens also gave council a history of the park and what she says are grave violations committed by the Aleut Corp. in its management of the park.

In 2005, the Aleut Corp. signed a lease with the State of Alaska for the land, after the previous lease holder, the City of Valdez, decided to end its role in the deal.

Conditions for the city to exit the lease and hand it directly to the Aleut Corp. called for extensive renovation of the park.

While some work was started, only the paving of the park was completed. Requirements that the Aleut Corp hook up trailers to the city's water system, sewer and upgrade the electric supply was never completed.

Devens presented information suggesting that permits for the work were not properly paid for by the Aleut Corp. and were not properly enforced by the city.

The park's residents are still in limbo and facing eviction at the end of August.

An agreement brokered by former acting city manager Robert Jean and the Aleut Corp. and drawn up by the city's attorney last Feb. has not gained traction with the Valdez City Council.

The contract called for the Aleut Corp. to run the park for two years. In exchange, the city would waive legal liabilities the corporation faces in the lease.

 

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