Top Hat getting the boot in Carbondale |

Top Hat getting the boot in Carbondale

Top Hat, who has lived in a culvert under Highway 133 since last year, is getting the boot.

Not only that, the Colorado Department of Transportation will put grates at each end of the culvert this week to keep others from moving in.

“It’s a matter of public safety,” said CDOT maintenance supervisor Phillip Anderle.

The culvert runs parallel to the Roaring Fork River near the intersection at Highway 82, and Anderle said it can fill with water during flash floods.

“It’s a matter of health and welfare of our constituents,” Anderle continued.

Top Hat, who calls himself that and sports a tall black top hat, was not available for comment. Lt. Jim Sears of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department said he’d talked with Top Hat last week to explain the situation.

“He told me he talked to his son about helping him load up his stuff,” Sears said.

Sears said Mary C. Millard, 50, believed to be living at the opposite end of the culvert, is in jail this week on suspicion of assaulting Top Hat on May 3.

Anderle said he became aware that people were living in the culvert about a year ago.

Earlier this year, Top Hat told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent he had fixed up the culvert, but two other guys beat him up and kicked him out one cold night.

Top Hat said he and the two men had made peace, and he returned. As of this week, the culvert had doors at each end, and inside were trash bags with unknown contents, lumber, sleeping bags and trash, Anderle said.

“It’s not a good situation for people to be there,” Anderle said.

Sears said if Top Hat refuses to leave, he will probably be cited for trespassing.

“If CDOT presses charges, we’ll cite him,” Sears said.

Top Hat and his culvert neighbor aren’t the only homeless people living near the busy highway intersection.

Sears said he contacted one person last year who was camped out at the base of Red Hill on Bureau of Land Management property north of the Highway 82 and 133 intersection.

“We told him there’s a 14-day limit,” Sears said. “Transients were stopping cars and begging for money … fighting,” Sears said.

Sears said about two weeks ago, he contacted a man who was camping out on Red Hill, further up County Road 107.

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