Gunnison mobile home residents band together
The residents of the Wildwood Mobile Home Park in Gunnison have taken the future of their neighborhood into their own hands by taking steps to form an association that could purchase the land they live on.
Bob Overton, who owns the property, is ready to sell after managing the park that has been in his family since 1966. The land’s 40 residents aren’t sure what will become of the 28.7-acre parcel if it is sold to someone who wants the land for something other than a mobile home park.
“Some of those residents have lived there all their lives. They were concerned that they might lose property and so they asked the Housing Authority about the process they’d have to go through to secure the land,” says Eileen McVicar, the essential housing administrator for the Housing Authority.
The property has been on the market since last August, with a price tag of $2,875,000. Residents hope to band together to buy the land.
In an effort to present a viable purchase offer, the park’s residents, under the guidance of the Housing Authority, have been in the process of developing articles of incorporation and creating the bylaws that would act as a template to govern their community and turn a group of individuals into a homeowner’s association.
“The Housing Authority works as a facilitator, providing a place to meet as well as gathering information and background on the types of ownership and present them with different ownership options,” says McVicar.
But the group did not have the resources to engage an attorney who could review the documents and make recommendations until they recently received an anonymous donation of $1,000 expressly for that purpose.
The result was a meeting Monday, July 14 between several of the homeowners and an attorney who will provide them with a way to proceed at a second meeting scheduled for July 28, says Jorgine Fossum. She has become active in the effort, after living in the park for two years and in the county for 29 years.
“I think this is a real opportunity for the homeowners,” says Fossum. The lawyer “is going to make sure everything is there for the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. After he does that we will review it all and he’ll tell us what the next step is and how we move forward with what we have.”
The Housing Authority operates separately from the county, as an enterprise fund and doesn’t take money from the general fund. Their service deals in retaining houses for people, rather than building them.
“We could not purchase the property for their benefit but we have been working in an advisory capacity and as a facilitator in the process. We’re not partnering, just supporting,” says McVicar.
The group, which has between six and 12 regular participants, has been meeting every other Monday at the housing authority since early January. And although the owner of the property has not been directly involved in the process, he has been very supportive of the people and their initiative, says McVicar, adding that if he gets any feedback from anyone else, he would consider all offers.
“We’ve had several groups express interest in the property but I’m hoping that the homeowners can put it together,” says Overton. “I’m just getting older and it’s a lot of work to keep going. I’m ready to move on to something else.”
The property that the mobile home park occupies is at 1313 W. Ohio Avenue, at the western edge of the city of Gunnison. Residents at the park currently have 30-day leases, for which they pay $205, according to the property listing.
“I don’t like it. If this thing all falls through, we’re going to be looking for someplace to park trailers,” says Vera Summers, who has lived at the park since 1972. “I don’t know where I’d go [if the park sold] because there aren’t that many places to have trailers around, and the ones that are out there are for a much higher price than this one.”
Summers raised her family in the park and has a son who still lives in the community, while other park residents play various roles in the community, from county employees to construction workers.
“The people living out there are our workforce and they’ve been made a community by the common purpose of staying in their homes,” says McVicar, adding that the average park resident has lived there for at least 12 years. “There is not a transient nature to the ownership of these homes.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Mobile Homeowners of Wildwood Mobile Home Park toward the costs of incorporation may do so by contacting the Gunnison County Housing Authority at 202 East Georgia, Suite A, Gunnison CO 81230 or via telephone at (970) 641-7901.