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Three Mile Mobile Home Park residents step into empowerment

Glenwood’s 3-Mile Mobile Home Park is going to be seeing some changes now that ownership by the Roaring Fork Community Development Corporation (RFCDC) has been finalized. KDNK’s Hattison Rensberry interviews Sydney Schalit, Executive Director of MANAUS, and Brianna Cervantes, the on-site property manager with Common Good Management, about some upcoming improvements for the park.

"Schalit: The park itself is located on an 11.3 acre parcel. Seven of those acres are unused, kind of wild land, and we are gonna work with the Carbondale Rural Fire Protection District to come in and help us map out what fire mitigation might look like up that steep hillside. We also have some infrastructure needs, sewer, water. We have a bridge that connects the one side of the park to the other side, and. It's safe by all accounts, but it's not very user-friendly. In terms of pedestrians, one thing we know is that a lot of the kiddos that live in the park kind of do this little sneak around on the creek around a fence to cut through so they don't have to go on the kind of scary road that is three miles, just a really narrow mountain road. And so one thing that I would imagine we might have feedback from parents, especially in the park, is figuring out a safer way for the kiddos to access the school and, and the main street.

Rensberry: Speaking of getting community feedback. Brianna, do you wanna talk a little bit about some things that you've heard from residents and community members so far?

Cervantes: They have been sharing a lot, you know, like, feeling so positive about this process. I think that for them it's already really clear in their mind. They're really, really excited. I mean, all of them that I have already, uh, interact with, they have shared, you know, how blessed they feel for this project and how, um, fortunate they feel. For living in a three mile people that are been living in there for the past 30 years, people that have seen their kids, um, born in this community and raised in this community, and now feeling that finally, you know, they have something that's securing their families. And I think that there's no other ways that by them, by saying that they feel really, really blessed for this.

Rensberry: Long term, the intention is for this park to be in the hands of the residents. What is the next step in that process?

Schalit: One of our goals is to work in partnership with the Aspen Valley Land Trust, to try to get a significant portion of that unused property off the hands of the park because. For one thing, it's a big liability and for another, if we're able to do it in the way that A V L T and the CDC have envisioned, there could be this opportunity for it to actually connect all the way to BLM and have a nice little conservation link. That process would buy down the purchase price for the residents pretty significantly. A big part of the process is gonna be the. Beginning stages of organizing in the vein of setting up the infrastructure within the community itself. So not the physical infrastructure, but the legal and community infrastructure that will then allow them to eventually write community rules. Access their own insurance and eventually access loans and other financing options to then purchase it

Cervantes: from us. I think the first step, of course, is building relationships based on trust and just like, um, helping them to figure it out, those plans and how to, um, navigate, um, those systems.

Rensberry: The majority of the people who live in the park are Spanish speakers, yes?

Schalit: Yes.

Cervantes: Yes.

Rensberry: How important is it that you are providing bilingual tools and opportunities for people?

Cervantes: I think that having a person who's bilingual opened the door for people that in the past didn't feel comfortable sharing any opinion. So I think that is a huge, um, asset to have a bilingual person because like that is something that they can relate to. And the cultural aspect of it, like feeling comfortable to address some situations and just like speaking their own language without thinking like, I'm gonna be judged or they're gonna think that my opinion, it's not worth it or criticize me for having this kind of thoughts. Because some of the things that they brought up to meetings have to do a lot with the way that they have been raised. You know, like things that they're in their backgrounds. So I feel like, so. Seen a face that looks familiar to them and and speaking the language of their heart. It's important for them to feel comfortable enough to increase their leadership and having a voice and feel that they have something to say and provide to the community. I wanna share one of the opinions that one of the residents, The other day told me and, and she was like, it feels so much better to have somebody who understand where we coming from. And they even say, you know, in the past we never had this opportunity. Like basically we just paying rent and trying to live our lives, but now we feel like we've been heard and that we have an opinion. It counts and it matters. In fact, there's some, um, residents that have already approached me and saying, you know, like, let's make sure that this park, it's gonna look beautiful because in the future this is gonna be ours. And we wanna make sure that now that we have the help of the running forest, c d c, to take in a way, you know, advantage of that so that we can be prepared and have everything in place for when we are gonna transition to be the owners, and they feel so empowered now.

Rensberry: Is there anything else that you guys would like to share in regards to this project or in regards to feedback you've gotten?

Schalit: We'll have folks who ask if we're gonna try to redevelop the park, and my response is always, that's not our choice. If the residents wanted to redevelop, we would set them up with all the right experts and all the right people, but for right now, we are in the game of preserving community and community housing, and we would just encourage that folks have a lot less judgment around what that looks like."

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.