From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 24 - September 9, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Workers have to live somewhere: Mancamps serve need

by Cat Urbigkit

The location of a mancamp with a capacity for housing up to 1,000 men will have an impact on the Big Piney/Marbleton area, but probably not as big as an impact as some might think.

That was the message received at a public meeting last week at the Big Piney Library on the issue.

"There is going to be an impact on our community," said Riley Alexander, co-owner of the Mountain Village Trailer Park and mancamp, located just south of Big Piney. "But I don't think it's going to be a big one."

Riley and Dan Alexander took several hours to answer questions and hear comments from about 20 members of the public at the meeting. Dan Alexander explained that while the partners are seeking a permit for housing up to 1,000 men, "whether there are 1,000 people to occupy it or not, we don't know. We shot high instead of low."

Dan Alexander explained that the Alexanders bought the trailer court and the camp in May, soon learning that the electrical, water and sewer infrastructure are in sound condition. They are now in the process of seeking state approval for a higher-capacity, fully automated septic system and are getting the septic treatment plant back into operation to handle the increased capacity.

There are also plans in the works for landscaping, weed control and eventually to put in a recreational area for the workers using the camp.

Dan Alexander said: "Our plans are to make that camp respectable to the community, not an eyesore. It will be orderly and well kept."

The Alexanders asked community members to provide their input about the camp, and to fill out a questionnaire aimed at learning the anticipated impact of the camp on the community. They suggested the public provide input "to help us make that a better place."

Riley Alexander addressed some of the misconceptions about the camp. He explained that the mancamp trailers will be moved out of the trailer park and into the mancamp, as well as the mobile homes currently being used to house groups of workers instead of families.

He explained that 1,000 workers won't suddenly appear and move into the camp, but the camp will provide housing for some workers currently living in various places around the community. He compared the 1,000 limit to established building quotas - it's simply an upper limit.

"A lot of the people are already here," he said, but noted that other industrial companies, such as Halliburton or Schlumberger, need to have a place where there workers can get eight hours of sleep before getting back on the job. The time period may be short - eight hours, but this could be needed for as many as 100 workers on a job site.

He also pointed out that the Alexanders won't be running the mancamp itself, but instead are the landowners and land managers. Different companies will rent space for their housing units to be moved in. Some will be closed camps with cook and cleaning staffs and dining halls. Others will be open camps where roughnecks can bring in their own food and cook for themselves in their five- or six-man unit.

Riley Alexander said the mancamp is "basically a big trailer court," with the exception that the occupants are workers, not families. The Alexanders won't be building or installing kitchen or laundry facilities. These are already in the camps when they are moved in, or the workers will use other public facilities.

The Alexanders will install some sort of security system at the entrance to the mancamp and visitors will be required to check in with the full-time manager on site. There will be parking permits required, as well as noise control, since the top priority for workers using mancamps is to get their sleep, no matter the time of day or night. The Alexanders will keep order by having rental agreements in place with the companies, who then control behavior in their units.

Riley Alexander used the existing Caza mancamp as an example. If a problem with a worker is encountered, the company promptly takes care of it or the worker is released of his job. He noted that local law enforcement officers have never had to respond to an incident in the camp, which is a dry camp because the company prohibits alcohol on the premises. The Caza camp has about a 40-man capacity.

"The mancamps," said Riley Alexander, "for the most part, they are pretty good people. They are good guys."

The Alexanders also pointed out that different companies will have different policies about alcohol, but no open alcoholic containers will be allowed outside on the premises at the mancamp. Some companies will insist on dry camps, while others may allow alcohol consumption within the living units.

Riley Alexander summarized policies that the mancamp will have in place, from no pets or children, to no public intoxication and "no projectile firing objects."

He emphasized, "We want it (the mancamp) to be a benefit to the community, not a detriment."

The Alexanders were generally commended for their efforts to provide a solution to the obvious housing need for workers associated with the natural gas industry.

"We don't want to make them feel excluded," Riley Alexander said. "We want to make them feel welcome. We want them to know Sublette County is a great place to live: bring your families."

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