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Residents of the Beachgate Inn, including several families, had to find new housing after the Colonial Beach motel was declared unsafe in December.
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BY JEFF BRANSCOME
For four months, Alyce Malowicki lived in Room 9 at the Beachgate Inn in Colonial Beach with her mother, brother, fiance and four young children.
They'd lost their previous rental when the bank foreclosed on the owner.
They paid $600 a month to live in the motel, only to have it declared unsafe to occupy in December.
But it turns out the motel's forced closure may have been a blessing in disguise for the family.
On Monday, they moved their belongings into a home with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, a family room and a fenced backyard. Their monthly rent will cost them $150 more than the motel room did.
"The kids' room alone is the same size as the room we're in now," said Malowicki, standing outside the motel on moving day.
A lot of the motel's 36 residents have found better places, she said. Almost half of them--including Malowicki's family--planned to move out Monday, said Jennifer McKenney, who lives at and manages the motel.
Four residents had yet to find other living arrangements as of Monday afternoon, said Colonial Beach Mayor-elect Mike Ham.
Residents must move out of the Beachgate Inn by 4 p.m. Thursday. For those who may not find places by the deadline, the American Red Cross will pay for three nights at a motel, Ham said.
"I think the town stepped up and did whatever it could," he said.
"Yes they did," responded Larry Vance, a retired Marine who lives at the motel.
Vance credited Ham, Town Council member Tim Curtin and the VFW Ladies Auxiilary with helping out.
But he said he's sad to leave. He recalled how motel residents had a yard sale to raise money for a playground.
"This is the most people-friendly place I've ever been in," said Vance, who plans to move out by noon on Thursday. He said he wished residents had been given more time to find other places. The property was found to have fire and building code violations on Dec. 20, after a car crashed into it and killed a resident. The Colonial Beach Town Council held an emergency meeting on Dec. 23 and authorized spending up to $4,000 to pay for fire watches on the property, so residents could have until this Thursday to find other housing.
"I'm a man of faith, and I believe things happen for a reason," said Curtin. "This could be what gets them back on track."
Malowicki said her kids are excited to have their own room. And she'll be glad to have a stove. Microwaveable meals are expensive, she said.
"Maybe it's just a good thing that everybody gets a fresh start," Malowicki said.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402