Questions linger for park residents as red tape slows progress
While eviction is called off, another looms as solutions prove evasive for all
There are still more questions than answers surrounding the long-term fate of the dozens of mobile homes - and the dwellers - of Aleutian Village Trailer Park.
City administrators held a special work session with the Valdez City Council last week to update park residents and the council on the status of the park's future.
Often, there were more questions than answers to the possible solutions.
The one clear fact that came out of the meeting is that the planned mass-eviction that was set in motion by the park's owners, the Aleut Corp., has positively been called off for 2016.
Lisa Von Bargen, the city's director of economic development, told meeting attendees that after meeting with officials of the Aleut Corp, it is clear that the company will follow through with its intent to issue another eviction notice to all owners of mobile homes in the park, it is just not known when that will occur.
Park residents were notified late last month that the original eviction notices issued last year that called for all residents and mobile homes be removed from the property by August 31, 2016 was cancelled.
However, the Aleut Corp. did say it would issue new eviction notices in the future so the company will be able to keep its options open in the event various plans to keep the park open under new ownership or as a city subdivision fail.
Alaska law requires 270 days notice to close a trailer park.
Officials initially rallied behind park residents who sought city aid in fighting the mass eviction but a clear pass forward has proven elusive.
Various possible paths forward in keeping the park open or redeveloped as a subdivision all present significant roadblocks - each with unique challenges, city administrators say.
The dynamics of the trailer park are complex.
The land is owned by the State of Alaska, and is leased to the Aleut Corp. specifically as a mobile home park.
At one time, the land was leased directly to the City of Valdez by the state; the city in turn sublet the lease to the Aleut Corp.
What is clear is that mandated upgrades to the park that were included in the Aleut Corp's lease with the state were never finished.
The city has hired contractors to inspect the electrical and water upgrades that were installed but not hooked up to the mobile homes but the results of the inspections were not available at the time of the meeting.
Von Bargen told council that city efforts to buy the land directly from the State of Alaska will take more time than initially believed due to quirks in state law regarding land transfers and sales.
The state can sell it for charitable or public use or gift it under the municipal entitlement laws.
SOURCE: City of Valdez
Aleutian solution possibilities .
"None of those three options is available to us," Von Bargen said.
The land will need to be specifically titled to the Alaska Dept. of Transportation before a direct sale is possible.
Von Bargen said the state officials have asked Valdez to be patient in the process.
She also said the city has not been able to gain permission to access the property to do an environmental hazard assessment.
"That is the biggest unknown to us," she said, and stressed that looking for possible contaminants on the property, located on the corner of Airport Rd. and the Richardson Highway, cannot be ignored by city officials.