The clock is running out for the remaining five residents at the Prospector Condos. Park City purchased the 23 affordable housing units in May and put those residents on notice - they would need to be out by October 31. Melissa Allison brings us the latest:
After receiving the city’s notice to vacate by Nov. 1, Prospector Condo resident Jeff Brueningsen, who is 64-years-old and has lived in the building for about 10 years, headed straight for the Park City Council meeting which was already in session.
He made it in time for public comment and proceeded to tell them they were acting illegally.
He presented several documents from the city he had saved through the years he had lived in his condo which he says proves he’s right.
He also claimed he was speaking on behalf of the other residents.
After listening for some time, Mayor Andy Beerman asked for a list of names Brueningsen was representing.
“Jeff, you keep saying, ‘We,’" Beerman said. "Would you clarify for us who you’re speaking on behalf? Are you speaking on behalf of yourself, or others?”
“Myself," Beerman said. "And some others. I don’t know Spanish so…”
“Can you give me their names and room numbers," Beerman asked. "Because my understanding is there’s only five people left in thebuilding and none of them claim that you’re speaking for them. So, I think you should be using, ‘I’ when you’re speaking on behalf.”
“I’m glad you’re able to speak in this direction," Brueningsen said. "And if you give me the names and numbers of the ones that you say I’m not representing, I’ll be happy to oblige. Cause everybody else has been terrified, frightened, scared, and has felt bullied by what you’ve done here.”
Brueningsen addressed council for 27 minutes.
KPCW reached out to Jorge Carranza – a neighbor of Brueningsen’s until recently. He and his wife moved to Kimball Junction the end of August and now share a home with two people they didn’t know before.Carranza confirmed that he and two other tenants asked Brueningsen to speak on their behalf.
“Yes, as far as being, speaking for all of us together, that hasn’t changed," Carranza said. "And uhm, I mean, if I could move back, I would move back.”
Carranza said he asked Brueningsen, why he even bothered?
“If uh, go through the whole stress and everything else you go thorugh – just for the lousy studio?’ Excuse my language," Carranza said. "And he was, ‘Well I’ve been here for so long – it’s worth it to me.’ And I go, ‘Well that’s fine if it’s worth it to you,’ I say.”
Carranza isn’t sure how his new living situation will work out, but he still works in Park City.
As for the meeting, Council Member Becca Gerber said they know its a difficult situation and wanted to give Brueningsen as much time as possible to air his grievances.
“It is an unfortunate situation, it isn’t ideal," Gerber said. "We wanted to make sure that Jeff felt heard and we are sympathetic with his situation, as we are with the situation of the whole condo unit. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone and the way the condo had been maintained, or had not maintained, was of serious concern to us.”
Because Brueningsen has threatened legal action against the city, Gerber said they’re not able to speak freely about the situation.
What she could say is they did their best to help the tenants to find other housing and gave them six months to make those changes.
The condition of the units which Gerber touched on, has to do with the hundreds of roaches and bed bugs that infested the building.
After purchasing the building, the city quickly hired a pest control company. But the problems with the condos go deeper.
Many of the units had other problems including plumbing, heating and other infrastructure. The city originally budgeted about $10,000 for repairs per unit.
Park City was able to purchase the 23 affordable units for $1.15 million when Talisker Housing defaulted on their 2008 loan with Frontier Bank.
Because the city used funds from their transit budget to purchase the condos – they have to be used for transit purposes. City officials report they haven’t been successful in getting bus drivers on a long-term basis – they hope these units can turn that around.
I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.