By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
The George Norman Trailer Court, a longstanding fixture in Big Sky, Montana, is now up for sale, leaving its residents in a state of uncertainty. This affordable housing community, with a rich history dating back to the 1970s, has been a home for many individuals who have contributed significantly to the community. However, the potential sale of the property, listed at $5.3 million, raises concerns about the fate of the park and its residents. As Big Sky experiences rapid development, the future of this beloved trailer court hangs in the balance.
Robert "Kenny" Alley, one of the oldest residents of the George Norman Trailer Court, expresses his dismay at the possibility of having to leave his home of 28 years. For him and many others, this trailer park has been a refuge and a starting point for numerous residents who went on to become integral members of the Big Sky community. Kenny, who battled liver cancer and dedicated himself to serving the American Legion, sees the potential sale as a significant loss for the community.
Dave O'Connor, the executive director of the Big Sky Community Housing Trust, acknowledges the high-value nature of the property. To preserve the trailer court, a philanthropic angel investor or a willing buyer who sees the value in maintaining the community as it is would be required. While O'Connor remains optimistic, he acknowledges that such opportunities are rare. The challenges of water resources and wastewater disposal in the Gallatin Canyon further complicate the potential for preserving the trailer court as it stands.
Despite the neighborhood's efforts to remain positive, the residents of the George Norman Trailer Court face an uncertain future. Many, like Kenny Alley, have lived there for years and cannot imagine leaving. As affordable housing options in Big Sky remain scarce, the potential displacement of these residents may force them to consider relocating to nearby Bozeman or seeking shared accommodations in the meadow area.
The Big Sky community recognizes the significant contributions made by the residents of the trailer court over the years. There is a collective hope that alternative housing options, such as the RiverView low-income housing tax credit apartments, could provide a viable solution for these displaced individuals. However, the housing trust faces limitations, and residents would need to apply through the same federal program as other applicants.
The impending sale of the George Norman Trailer Court signals the end of an era for Big Sky. This close-knit community has been a refuge and launching pad for numerous residents, fostering friendships and supporting each other over the years. While hopes for preservation and alternative housing options exist, the future remains uncertain. The potential loss of this affordable housing community serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by many communities grappling with rapid development and the need for affordable housing solutions. The impact of the sale will undoubtedly be felt by both the residents and the broader Big Sky community, highlighting the importance of finding sustainable solutions to support all members of society.