‘No place for us to go:’ Maloit Park residents fear displacement as school district housing project pushes ahead (2024)

‘No place for us to go:’ Maloit Park residents fear displacement as school district housing project pushes ahead (1)

As the Eagle County School District forges ahead with its plans to bring affordable housing to Maloit Park in Minturn, questions linger for the area’s current residents.

Currently, Maloit Park is home to 15 mobile home units occupied by district employees.

At the Wednesday, March 27 board of education meeting, many of these employees and their families spoke out, urging the district not to displace them in their current homes. Those who spoke have lived in their homes for anywhere from three to 34 years.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity that we’ve been given to live in Maloit Park for the past 34 years, where we raised our children — two proud graduates of the Eagle County School District — and where our four grandchildren now come to play with us, to spend holidays and have sleepovers,” said resident Nancy Lindbloom.

“We implore you not to destroy our homes, to please leave the existing 15 single-family homes as they are.”

‘No place for us to go:’ Maloit Park residents fear displacement as school district housing project pushes ahead (2)

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While residents have faced eviction from Maloit Park during previous development attempts, the residents’ recent concern of displacement was seemingly sparked by a March 13 column in the Vail Daily written by Superintendent Philip Qualman.

“In April of 2025, we’ll begin improving infrastructure at Maloit Park in south Minturn and expect that work to take about six months to complete. Maloit Park, which currently has a few mobile homes that house district staff, will see those replaced along with additional units built to total 138 district-owned housing options,” Qualman wrote.

Tanya Rippeth spoke directly to the column and what she called a “very vague and real quick” overview of the homes’ replacement.

“Those homes are not just a few mobile homes, they’re families. There’s 15 families with all ages, all kids, people that have worked for this school district for years, kids that are going to be growing up, coming back, potentially working for the school district — and that legacy there is so meaningful,” Rippeth said. “We chose to live there.”

Building at Maloit Park

Developing the property in Minturn has long been on the district’s radar.

Maloit Park is a nearly 85-acre site that was annexed into the town of Minturn in 2011. The development agreement reached at the time zoned 46 acres of the parcel for residential and mixed-use, with the remaining portions being dedicated to the town’s water treatment site (18 acres) and open space preservation (nearly 40 acres).

Maloit was identified as a priority site in the school district’s 2020 Employee Housing Master Plan. In 2019, the district began planning efforts on the site. During this process, the residents were told in May 2019 that they’d have to be out by June 2020. However, when the district pulled back on its initial planning efforts at the Minturn site in 2019, residents were able to stay. In 2022, the district beganrevisiting the development.

‘No place for us to go:’ Maloit Park residents fear displacement as school district housing project pushes ahead (3)

Since then, the district has pushed forward on the entitlement process for the site, with the board approving a $258,000 budget to initiate the process in November 2022. This work has included coordinating with the town, going through background planning and site work, schematic design, development drawings and more.

Additionally, the $100 million bond passed by Eagle County voters in November 2023 will provide funds to begin the installation of development infrastructure at Maloit Park.

Initial planning for the site in 2023 identified the potential to develop 138 units of housing on the site, including duplexes, townhomes and condo units.

Sandy Farrell, the district’s chief operating officer, confirmed that the current development plans “do reflect removal of the mobile homes.”

“ECSD is required to follow rules and regulations established by the State of Colorado Mobile Home Park Act.This includes a payment for relocation or removal, as well as a one-year notification,” she said. “Residents have not been notified yet. We are researching the option of phasing the infrastructure to determine if it is cost-effective to phase development or not.”

A unique model for housing

Maloit Park is unique compared to the other housing opportunities the school district offers to staff, which predominantly include rental opportunities.

“What might be different with this situation than other tenants that the district has is that we own these places. We’ve invested in these places, and we’ve spent a lot of time improving them,” said Tim Caudill, who has lived in Maloit Park for 24 years and taught at Battle Mountain for the same length of time.

“We’re all so grateful for the opportunity to live out there … but we’re not sure what’s going to happen and we’re very concerned.”

On Wednesday, many residents spoke to how the opportunity to own at Maloit Park has helped their families — and how similar home-ownership opportunities should be included in the future of the housing there.

“We are a perfect example of how ECSD employee housing in its various forms can retain employees,” Lindbloom said. Lindbloom spent her entire 31-year career at Battle Mountain.

In 1988 and 1989, Lindbloom and her husband Carl, who works at Vail Health, lived in the district’s short-term housing in the Eagle Valley bus barn. After that, they were able to purchase their home in Maloit Park.

“Without this housing opportunity, even in 1990 when we purchased the property in Maloit Park, we would have been hard-pressed to stay in Eagle County as housing costs were already beginning to outpace educator pay,” she said.

As such, this type of housing opportunity is “the perfect answer to providing long-term housing that allows the district to retain employees, as evidenced by the longevity of many of its current residents,” Lindbloom said, before imploring the district to add more “employee-owned and employee-maintained” homes to the Maloit development plan.

“We are proof that Maloit Park is a successful model for affordable housing for retaining school district employees,” wrote Kari Bangtson, a Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy teacher who has lived in Maloit since 2007, in an email addressed to the school board.

Bangston spoke from personal experience about the importance of this housing model for retaining staff.

“In my 16 years as an ECS employee, I have bid farewell to countless co-workers after they gave Eagle County a ‘go’ for 2 to 5 years,” she wrote. “We need to retain experienced educators and support staff.”

As such, among her requests, Bangston urged the district to include Maloit homes for purchase, keep them affordable and help transition the current residents into new homeownership opportunities in the development.

Nowhere else to go

In acknowledging the need for more affordable, employee housing that Maloit promises to provide for educators and school staff, residents still expressed concern for their futures.

Rippeth and her husband, Eric, have lived in Maloit Park for around six years. Rippeth works for a local business and her husband has taught at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy for nine years and 14 in the local school district. The couple has twin boys who both attend VSSA.

“Displacing the people that live out there now, the 15 families, just seems a little bit unnecessary, almost counterintuitive, like you’re creating one problem to solve for another problem,” Rippeth said. “If you’re creating the problem to displace us, where we’re going to have to now go find homes to live in, knowing that the problem already exists, that there’s no housing or there’s very little lack of affordable housing.”

“Make no mistake, there’s really no place for us to go to,” said James Carullo.

Carullo has lived in Maloit with his wife, Theresa Carullo (an interventionist at Red Sandstone Elementary School) for 11 years. When they moved to Minturn, James Carullo said the couple was “struggling to figure out what we were going to do because as two teachers, we couldn’t afford to live in Eagle, which was supposed to be the affordable community.”

They were preparing to have to leave the county in 2012 when they stumbled upon the opportunity to purchase their Maloit Park home.

“We were pretty much out the door after being here for over a decade, and that house saved us and allowed us to continue to live in a place that we wanted to rather than having to tuck tail and move back east,” Carullo said.

Now, they’re facing a potentially similar situation.

“I think about what will happen to us if these houses get removed for any reason, we’ll have to leave. … We’re super thankful for the opportunity to have spent the last 11 years there because Colorado was the place we chose to make our home,” he said.

Spencer Messer, who teaches English and coaches cross-country at Battle Mountain, was joined on Wednesday by his wife, a Vail Health employee, and his two young children.

“Similar to my neighbors, Maloit Park has given us the ability to continue to live in Eagle County,” Messer said.

“I absolutely understand the ramifications of the bond passing. You have money. You want to build more housing. That’s an important thing, and we are byproducts of people experiencing the benefits of housing,” he added.

However, similar to many of those who spoke, Messer asked the district to find a way to “build housing that doesn’t displace the 15 families that currently reside there.”

The residents offered a few possibilities to do so, including phasing and planning the project so they can stay in their homes as long as possible, using the land and space wisely around their homes without replacing them and more.

“There’s space for both,” Carullo said. “I know that — speaking for everyone who lives there — we would really like to stay there.”

“Having the security of our home in limbo is stressful. Even though we know change is coming, the stress is real. My husband and I wonder, if and when our family will be evicted? When will we get handed a year’s notice? Then what?” Bangston wrote. “I would appreciate having residents involved in the development process.”

District responds

Since the comments came during public comment, the school board did not address the residents’ comments on Wednesday. Board members did, however, express that they’d like to discuss the topic during a future school board meeting.

In an email to the Vail Daily on Friday, Farrell said they do not have an “existing plan or confirmation of what will happen with the existing residents.”

“We will work with the residents, the Land Resource Committee and the Board of Education to determine what this plan will look like,” she said, adding that the district is communicating with Maloit Park’s residents on a “regular basis.”

‘No place for us to go:’ Maloit Park residents fear displacement as school district housing project pushes ahead (2024)
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