New Port Richey city leaders are being asked to decide tonight whether they want the city to immediately rid Walden Pond Mobile Home Park of more than 50 deteriorating, unsafe trailers.
The city building department has posted notices of condemnation on 52 of the 77 trailers still standing at Walden Pond. Three additional trailers have already collapsed. Five additional trailers are uninhabitable.
Walden Pond has been a concern for city officials for some time. Earlier this summer, the mobile home park's owners ordered residents to leave, but failed to follow legal guidelines for eviction. Since then, some residents have vacated the park; others have remained behind. The dumpsters that served the park's residents have been removed, leaving trash and debris to pile up.
City officials have issued citations to the park's owners.
Now, officials plan to present council members with an emergency resolution tonight, Oct. 2, that, if approved, would authorize the city to move immediately to raze, remove, abate or otherwise mitigate the problem of the mobile homes for which notices of condemnation were posted. The homes with notices are vacant.
Officials have raised concerns about public safety and health issues at the park.
The condition of Walden Pond “constitutes a serious fire and health hazard,” the resolution states. Mobile homes “have been stripped of supporting metal and foundations so that the buildings may collapse at any time,” according to the resolution.
Unless immediate action is taken, there is a “great likelihood that the surrounding property may be destroyed by fire originating from such unsafe and hazardous structures,” the emergency resolution states.
The condemned trailers also contain litter, trash and debris “with breeding rats, rodents, insects and other germ carriers of diseases,” according to the resolution.
The resolution orders “problem structures be dismantled, demolished, abated, or removed immediately."
In the wake of many residents leaving, people have been taking pieces off trailers. New Port Richey Code Enforcement Officer Liz Nichols informed officials of the three additional collapsed trailers last week and raised concerns about the safety conditions at the park, where scrapping and scavenging are a serious concern.
There is also leaking sewage. Some mobile homes do not have power. Some are on the verge of collapse.
Park owners removed dumpsters from the park in August. Earlier this month, the city had to spend six hours removing the large amount of trash that residents left on the ground. It took three 20-yard dumpsters and six hours to remove the trash, Nichols said.
Walden Pond also owes the city roughly $25,000 in unpaid utility bills, according to a memo.
The City Has Tried to Work With The Park's Owners
Acting City Manager Doug Haag said the city met Friday with representatives of Walden Pond, LLC, the park's ownership group. He said that Walden Pond has been asked to present a plan for mitigating the problems at the park with some of its funds at Tuesday’s meeting. He said that Walden Pond has been asked to come up with a plan to address the park's problems using at leasr some of its own money - not the city's. That plan is supposed to be presented Tuesday night.
“We’re hoping that they will take it upon themselves to do what’s right,” Haag said.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. tonight at City Hall.
Haag did not know how much removal of the 52 trailers will cost. He said the city will charge Walden Pond if it has to deal with the nuisance trailers itself.
“We want to work with them because we don’t want to bear the burden,” he said.