By Caitlin Switzer MONTROSE—(February 6)Anyone who has ever walked past the trailer court at 131 South San Juan can see that the five empty, crumbling, unsecured units that sit at the entry way to the development are not fit for human habitation. Anyone, that is, except the owners of the property—a Grand Junction-based company called Great New Homes, who claim that the properties just need a little TLC.
The park, one of two owned by Great New Homes (based at 3032 Interstate I-70 Business Loop) on South San Juan Avenue, holds a total of 27 units—the other, at 221 South San Juan, has 28. Although the manager refused to give out any information on the park, he did state when asked about the empty, “gateway” units, “we are going to repair those and make them available.” Montrose County Health & Human Services has no jurisdiction in the matter, and City of Montrose Code Enforcement Officer Rick Gawlinski noted that abandoned properties must be secured to be in code compliance, but said that the only complaints received about the Great New Homes development have been about the water line breaks. Although neighbors have called in after observing water line breaks in two empty trailers over the past two months, the company has not been cited. “I pick my battles,” Gawlinski said, “and there are some you can’t win.”
“Unfortunately, I am limited in what we can do from a water and sewer standpoint,” said Dan Mazza of the City of Montrose’s Water and Sewer Department. “As long as somebody keeps paying their bill, I am required to keep the water on.” The situation is hard on city water and sewer staff, who have shut off the water under dangerous conditions on both occasions that complaints have come in, although technically they are not responsible for doing so. Close neighbors have also observed what appear to be drug buys as well as neighborhood children playing near the abandoned trailers.
“It’s not just that particular trailer park,” noted Montrose Police Sgt. Paul Eller, who has monitored trailer courts in the area throughout his 26-year career, “although they do have some dilapidated trailers that need to be pulled out. The current manager, Earl, works with us in our crime-free communities program, and we are trying to get things improved.”
“Abandoned structures breed crime,” said City Councilor Carol McDermott when asked about the condition of the trailer court at 131 South San Juan. “Where those trailers are used to be the edge of town, and back then the land had less value and cost less to develop. When a landlord fails in his due diligence and properties fall into disrepair, criminals move in and other people move away—I would like to see the landlords held accountable in the interest of the public health.”