Board denies report that Alta Gardens will be sold

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POWNAL — In an apparent effort to assuage concern among some residents of Alta Gardens Mobile Home Park, the Select Board has denied reports that the 56-lot park on Route 7 is going to be sold.

Chairman Bryan Harris said he was contacted recently by the park's owner, Mark Garrity.

There was some concern after a months-old email was posted online, sent by former Town Administrator Michael Walker to himself, Harris said at a Select Board meeting last Thursday. The email was among thousands released by the town last month after a freedom of information request filed by a person using a fake name and was later posted on a Facebook site.

"To paraphrase, essentially, there was talk of a $100 million deal with the [former Green Mountain] race track owners and a development plan," Harris said of the email.

Walker stated in the email that there was a desire to buy Alta Gardens, Harris said.

"I'm here to say that I contacted our Planning Commission chairman, our Development Review Board chairman and our zoning administrator," Harris said at the meeting. "None of that is true. It's not going to happen. Nobody is buying the trailer park."

Even if Garrity wished to sell the park, he would have to give 45 days' notice to all residents, "before he can even begin any discussions on selling the park," Harris said.

"He reached out to me and told me that nobody has ever contacted him on this," Harris said of Garrity. "He has no intention of selling the park. He wants people to realize that. Nothing's changing. Please pay your rent."

An email to Harris from Walker, apparently the one Harris referenced, mentions a $100 million project at the former race track off Route 7 near the Massachusetts border.

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"It is moving forward," Walker states in the email. "I asked them for impact incentives: a new fire station, an electric car charging station, and they are interested in buying Alta Gardens One section of the project will have 66 homes, which would generate close to $300,000 in new tax revenue."

Michael Gardner Jr., the town's zoning administrator, who also attended the meeting Thursday, said Walker did approach him about a "big potential project" at the racetrack.

"Absolutely not one time was Alta Gardens ever mentioned from Mr. Walker to me," he said. "To be perfectly honest I treated this potential project at the race track like the other 250 projects that have gone on since it's closed. Until I have a piece of paper in my hand as the zoning administrator that says, `this is what we're looking to do,' it's a rumor."

Garrity had also requested that the board send letters to residents of the park addressing these concerns, Harris said. The board unanimously approved having Administrative Assistant Linda Sciarappa send this correspondence.

Walker was fired from the position of administrator in a Dec. 9 vote of the board.

Garrity, who lives in Southwick, Massachusetts, is listed as the owner of Alta Gardens in the Vermont Mobile Home Park Program 2019 Registry & Mobile Home Parks report. According to the report, Alta Gardens is one of eight mobile home parks in Pownal.

The park was established in 1970. The 2019 lot rent was $357.

Mobile homes make up more than 7 percent of all occupied housing units in Vermont, and almost 75 percent of these are owner-occupied residences, according to the report.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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