Friday, May 20, 2011
Making Mobile Home Park History
By James Lomuscio
Out of sight for most, mobile homes have been part of Westport’s landscape for decades, perhaps ever since the first futuristic looking, silver Airstream trailers rolled off the assembly line in the late 1930s.
A couple of the homes currently at 1655 Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
In the 1950s, a privately owned trailer park took form on Post Road East. In 1981, the Westport Housing Authority (WHA) took it over, naming it Sasco Creek Village at 1655 Post Road East.
Since then, there have been upgrades at Sasco Creek. In the late 1990s, the old trailers were taken out and replaced by one-level modular units, called double-wides. In the front of the park, trailers on blocks and with skirts remain.
But now the WHA plans to revamp Sasco Creek Village, a $10 to $15 million project that would replace the 74-unit mobile home rental park with three-story buildings that would make the area denser and net 96 affordable rental housing units.
In short, the Sasco Creek would be more like the WHA’s Hales Court, and Westport’s trailer park, a unique, albeit funky example of the town’s economic diversity and history, would become just that, history.
The plan was detailed Thursday night at a Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) public hearing by Rick Redniss, president of Redniss & Mead, a Stamford-based design and consulting firm specializing in land use.
“When this is completed there will be no mobile homes in Westport, nothing on wheels?” asked David Press, P&Z secretary.
The original mobile homes at Sasco Creek were replaced by more substantial structures. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
When Redniss said yes, Press pointed out that the district would change.
“When this is done, we will not be dealing with a mobile home park district,” Press pointed out.
Laurence Bradley, Westport Planning & Zoning Director, first presented text amendment 630, an application that proposes to modify the regulations relating to the Mobile Home Park District to allow for changes to at Sasco Creek Village.
The proposed changes include: affordable housing density increases; height, setback and coverage modifications, slight increases in the unit sizes and relief on parking lot layouts.
According to the WHA, the change would “permit development that simultaneously provides for efficient use while maintaining an appropriate scale.”
After the P&Z closed its hearing, WHA Director Carol Martin lauded the plan as something that would make the park much safer since the mobile homes were designed only as temporary housing.
Redniss said that the new units would be much safer with appropriate wiring and uniform fire alarms.
“I think we have a good plan, and it allows for flexibility,” said Martin. “It slightly increases density, but that will better serve the families on our waiting list.”
Comments: Comment Policy
What goes unsaid is that the “old trailer park” was a great free enterprise engine where people purchased trailers, built equity and went on to buy their own homes. The housing authority changed all that creating taxpayer expense and a loss of opportunity for young families and enterprising individuals, replaced by jobs for bureaucrats.
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