Trailer park nears sale to nonprofit


Tuesday, August 28
POWNAL — The Green Mountain Mobile Home Park has another chance at being sold to a nonprofit group. A purchase and sales agreement was concluded between the Housing Foundation Inc. and U.S. 7 Highway Holdings, LLC.

Housing Foundation Inc.

A letter to residents of the park dated Aug. 8 from Richard Williams, the executive director of the Vermont State Housing Authority, said the agreement does not guarantee the purchase of the park but is a first step in a possible purchase.

"HFI will apply for public funds and this process can be lengthy and uncertain," reads the letter. "However, it signals HFI's intent to perform due diligence work — if our engineering work, etc., tells us the asking price is fair, we will move towards buying the park in the spring of 2008."

The letter states that several consultants will be visiting the park in the next three months and a meeting with residents to discuss the process will be held shortly. According to Bill Botzow, D-Pownal/Woodford, the group will meet at the Pownal Valley Firehouse at 6 p.m. on Sept. 13 and then go to the Select Board meeting, which is at 7:30 p.m. at the town office, to attempt to gain the town's support.

Botzow said he was unsure if Sept. 13 was the correct date for the meeting.

"It will help with applications if they have the community support," said Botzow.

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The park was foreclosed on by the LaSalle Bank National Association in October. When the bank filed a notification of its intent to sell on Jan. 17, a 45-day window opened for leaseholders to decide if they want to buy the park or have a nonprofit organization purchase it. A petition was signed by 18 of the 34 Green Mountain park giving HFI an additional 90 days to negotiate with the bank.

According to Botzow, the bank and HFI could not reach an agreement. Now the bank asked HFI for another offer.

"They made an original offer and the bank turned them down," said Botzow. "This is good news. Their intentions are to work well with the owners."

Botzow said that HFI acts as a financial arm of the Vermont State Housing Authority. At a Feb. 13 informational meeting, Michael Momaney of the HFI reportedly said that they will advocate for the residents to purchase the park themselves when they are able.

"I think nonprofit ownership is better than nearly every other type of ownership, but I believe co-ops are even better," said Momaney at that meeting.

Chairman Nelson Brownell of the Select Board said on Thursday that the agreement is good news but the actual sale may take a long time. There are a lot of groups involved in the process, he said.

Botzow said that HFI will be looking to apply for grants to purchase the park from the Vermont Community Development Program, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Community Foundation.

Neither Williams nor Krister Adams from the Vermont State Housing Authority were available for comment on Monday.


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