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Developers force Bonanza residents to move out after seven months’ notice

Lynn Burton

Cedar Rose was sitting on her shady porch Sunday morning when a stranger approached with two large dogs, straining at their leashes.

“Do you want that bathtub?” the man asked, just as a loud barking match erupted between his dogs and Rose’s dog.

“Yes,” Rose shot back. “And can you please keep your dogs out of my yard?”

The man jerked his dogs back from the fence and muttered, “It’s been pleasant talking to you,” as he turned and walked away.

“The last thing I need is for that guy’s dog to trash my flowers,” Rose explained. “I’ve got to get them moved today.”

Sunday was final moving day for Rose

Bonanza

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Bonanza

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and the other 80 or so residents in Carbondale’s Bonanza Trailer Park. The day came 14 months after a pair of businessmen bought the 1.5-acre trailer park and announced plans to develop it.

Most of the mobile homes were built before 1975, and only three could be legally moved. Records at the Garfield County Courthouse showed the trailer sizes ranged from 1,200 square feet to a 386-square-foot unit built in 1957. Some trailers were owner occupied, while others were rental units.

The Bonanza Trailer Park provided some of Carbondale’s last low income and affordable housing, and most of the residents were Latino.

Things were quiet at the trailer park Sunday morning. There was one exposed foundation, but the other 18 trailers were still in place. Bonanza developer Bill Smith said he is letting the owner of a unit that can be moved to store it on his property nearby until she can find a permanent site.

Smith said the residents were released from their legal responsibility of moving the trailers, and he’ll decide Tuesday or Wednesday on their disposal. He said the residents received a $1,500 relocation allowance, and seven months free rent after he bought the property.

Smith estimated it will take 30 to 45 days to completely clean up the property and remove add-on structures such as decks.

After Smith and his partner, Ed Podolak, bought the Bonanza Trailer Park in April of 2001, the park residents rallied together and asked the Carbondale Board of Trustees to find a way for them to keep their homes, or at least remain in the community.

The residents hired attorney Joe Edwards Jr. to present options for relocation, but the trustees declined. Trustees also decided not to require developers to replace 100 percent of the housing that is lost to redevelopment.

The trailer park is located north of the Dinkel Building. It was zoned Historic Commercial Core in 1972, and most subsequent residents understood they’d have to move should the property change hands.

Rose said only a few months before the property was sold, the previous owner told her said the trailer park wouldn’t be developed for five to 10 years.

Rose admitted she doesn’t have much money invested in her trailer, and she is buying a condominium near Sopris Park. What bothers her is that Carbondale has lost an important neighborhood and the community didn’t do more to prevent its loss.

“I’m angry at Carbondale right now,” said Rose, who has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1977. “This trailer park has been here for 45 years. There have been a lot of people who have lived in this park and benefited from it.”

Rose said some people might see trailer living as a poor man’s way of life.

“But we have a sense of community here. We wave at each other. These are kind, caring people,” she said of her neighbors.

Trustee Scott Chaplin lived in a log cabin at the northwest corner of the trailer park. He is moving to Thompson Corner, the deed restricted affordable housing project at River Valley Ranch.

Sunday morning, Chaplin was loading up the last of his belongings and talking with Rose about items she was taking or leaving behind.

“People are pretty sad. They are losing their homes,” Chaplin said. “Some are having to leave the community. Some are leaving the state.”

Most of the residents who are staying are moving to Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Silt. “Those are the ones I’ve heard of so far,” Chaplin said. “Some are renting in Carbondale. A couple have actually been able to buy homes.”


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