Parachute homeowners experience major problems, bad soils blamed by town official
Citizen Telegram Editor
PARACHUTE – Evelyn Schaller owns a home she wants to sell.
But an appraiser told her he couldn’t give an appraisal due to extensive structural damage and problems to the home Schaller claims were due to shoddy construction and a possible lack of oversight by officials in Parachute.
Several of her neighbors in Alpine Meadows, a 25-home subdivision on the west end of Parachute, said they have similar problems. Alpine Meadows was developed by Marc Wagner and Marcal Construction of Grand Junction was the general contractor on the project, Schaller said.
Town Administrator Bob Knight, in an interview on Tuesday, Sept. 17, laid the blame on wet, unstable soils in the area, noting the town is having to make expensive repairs to nearby Parachute Park Boulevard, just 18 months after it was completed.
Doors won’t close, walls cracking, sidewalks slanted
Josh and Sonia Selby bought their home at 605 Meadow Dr. out of foreclosure two years ago. It has several cracks in the ceiling and Josh Selby said he had to plane the tops off two doors to get them to close, after the door frames shifted.
“The bedroom door still doesn’t close, even after I ground off the top,” he said during a brief tour on Thursday, Sept. 12.
The home’s utility room door is in the same shape, Selby said, and the ends of his home appear to be settling. The concrete leading to his front door is shifting and a wooden post that helps support the front porch roof has pulled away from the roof.
The homes were built in 2001, according to Schaller, who lives in Battlement Mesa.
“It’s been a disaster,” Schaller said. “I don’t think the town ever inspected these homes.”
Knight said the subdivision was built before he was hired by the town, but noted the town was surprised at the failing concrete on Parachute Park Boulevard.
“I’m sure the foundations and everything was inspected to make sure it met engineering specs,” Knight said. “We did all that with Parachute Park Boulevard, and you wouldn’t believe what we have to do to repair that road. The contractor went bankrupt, so we have to do the work ourselves.”
Among the alleged problems Schaller listed on her home at 7 Alpine Court, just around the corner from the Selbys, were footings not built to code, sinking foundations, and sidewalks and driveways settling.
“I had an appraiser come out and tell me he couldn’t give an appraisal, it was so bad,” Schaller added.
Duane Jewell owns a home at 1 Alpine Court, across the street from Schaller’s. While he hasn’t seen much visible evidence of problems, Jewell said he knows the footing is settling, which he expects will likely lead to cracks in walls and other problems.
And Kathy Clark, the original owner of a house at 610 Meadow Dr., said a part of her front lawn had sunk and required additional top soil to keep it level with the rest of the yard.
When Schaller’s garage door is closed, there is a large hole at the bottom, due to settling concrete.
“I’m going to have to tear out the sidewalk and the cracked driveway to try to fix it, if I want to sell it,” she said. “I don’t think they put any gravel or even wire mesh down before they poured the concrete.”
Knight targeted at town meeting
Schaller, who said she used to sell homes as a realtor, criticized Knight for what she said was an “unprofessional” attitude and allegedly ignoring her phone calls for help. Schaller also criticized Knight and the town for not getting rid of noxious weeds, especially knapweed, along the nearby town irrigation water ditch.
“Now they’re in my yard and you can’t get rid of them,” she said.
At the Sept. 12 town trustee meeting, Schaller leveled a blistering, often sharply-worded, criticism at Knight. When Schaller’s language became too coarse, she was warned to tone it down by Trustee Tom Rugaard.
“I don’t want to hear that kind of language in here,” he told Schaller.
In his interview, Knight said he understood the frustrations Schaller and her neighbors feel.
“I don’t believe Alpine Meadows was just slapped together,” he said. “But I can totally understand their frustrations. The town did everything it could to ensure Parachute Park Boulevard was built to last. But the soil conditions out there are so unique, I don’t think there is any engineering that would have found these problems beforehand.”
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