City to Clean Up Walden Pond

The city is going to raze condemned trailers and clean up the property.

Article originally reported and written by Alex Tiegen Oct. 17, 2012

New Port Richey taxpayers are officially on the hook for paying a contractor an estimated $62,600 to clean up the mess at Walden Pond Mobile Home Park.

City council members unanimously directed city staff Tuesday to hire outside help to raze more than 50 condemned trailers and for a general cleanup at the property.

The city is going to pursue a lien against the owners.

Walden Pond has been a problem for city officials for months. This past 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.

Earlier this month, city leaders passed an emergency resolution condemning unsafe trailers at the park. That resolution allows city staff to raze the condemned trailers if so directed.

The attorney representing Walden Pond, LLC, the entity that owns the park, said at that time the park’s ownership had put in place an “action plan” to address concerns at the property. City leaders at that time opted to give the park owners a chance to clean up the mess.

City officials panned the park owner's attorney last week after Walden Pond, LLC, failed to take step to improve conditions at the property.  The owners hadn't posted security at the park or signed a settlement agreement for getting the condemned trailers razed and the property cleaned up. 

On Tuesday, Walden Pond’s ownership still hadn’t given city leaders a signed settlement agreement. There were still no security guards posted at the park and still no dumpsters on the property. The owners also had not agreed to a city-proposed plan to put up fencing at the park.

The ownership had, however, begun asbestos testing on the trailers.

Paul Beraquit, managing partner for Walden Pond LLC, was at the Oct. 16 meeting.

City Council members weren’t happy with the company.

Councilman Bob Langford said he didn’t “have good faith any longer in the owners.” He passionately asked Beraquit why the company had not completed a to-do list.

“You’re not being responsible at all,” Langford said

Beraquit told the council he was working to have a part time person monitor the property and to put a 20-yard dumpster at the park. He complained about finances being limited and not getting rent payments since May.  He said the company is not “turning our back.”

“We’re trying to be a good landowner,” he said.

Not good enough

The city has condemned 52 unsafe vacant trailers at Walden Pond. Four additional trailers have collapsed. People are stripping trailers. There are still 24-26 people living at the park. Some own their trailers. Trash has piled up at the park in the absence of dumpsters. The city picked up a mound of garbage as month, but a new trash pile is replacing it.

Langford made the motion to have the city take care of the mess at Walden Pond.

"I would like for us to remedy it because he's not," he said, indicating Beraquit.

Tenants still living in rented or owned trailers that have not been condemned can remain at the park until a legal eviction process is followed or they move out.

Council member Bill Phillips, who has experience in the real estate business, asked how many partners Walden Pond, LLC, has and Beraquit told him there were four.  

Regarding the settlement agreement, Phillips noted that with four partners, “I’m not sure they are ever going to find the right place for us.”

He cited the lack of progress Walden Pond has made in cleaning up the park and public safety concerns.

He called it “offensive” that Walden Pond’s ownership hasn’t been diligent. The quality of life issue at the park has taken time away from other important  issues.

“Let’s just get it done,” he said. “Let’s get it cleaned up.”

See also

Walden Pond Owners Given Chance to Clean Up Property

City Could Raze Crumbling Trailers at Walden Pond

Collapsing Trailers Raise Safety Concerns at Walden Pond

Dumpster Removal at Walden Pond Raises Concerns

Pasco Seeks to Connect Walden Pond Tenants with Aid

Residents Continue to Occupy Walden Pond After Closing Deadline

Pasco Exploring Ways to Help Walden Pond Tenants

Tenants Oppose Removal from Walden Pond

Mobile Home Park Closing Leaves Residents in a Bind

Tenants Upset About Walden Pond's Closing

FEMA Canvasses Walden Pond

Nancy MacDonald October 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I see no other way than my city being responsible for taking over. Rats and the bubonic plague in Scotland come to mind. We are paying for sins of the past and let's hope we learn a hard lesson. We may have to pay for other hard lessons so let's sit tight, grit our teeth, and quit bashing or lashing out.
Grace October 20, 2012 at 03:22 PM
It's interesting that on a local level nobody is screaming about cutting services and raising revenues to pay for something which could only be called "negligence" by either previous city officials or current ones. But the minute you take this to a federal level, nobody blames the previous admin but they all scream for tax cuts. I think that on all levels, ALL elected officials should only be allowed to serve (or run) for a certain time period and maybe we should start holding them accountable, how about salary or benefit cuts for them if there are shortfalls or funds spent unwisely? And a bonus system for them when they wisely manage our money? I have driven around the Walden Pond area off and on for years, and it's a mess now. If the owners don't want to pay for clean up or do the right thing, what good will a lien do? And if the property were to be sold off, in this real estate market, how much would they realistically get for it? But on the other hand, New Port Richey is far less trashy than Port Richey.
Dwan October 21, 2012 at 01:22 AM
has anyone taken into consideration that Fema came in and gave some of these tenant money to get on with there lifes and the state of florida has came in to help the home owners to get out and that this happened in July which has been about four months ago and that the real teanents that was living there is out except for a few people maybe about ten orginally families and that all of the rest was squiters I am sorry but I did live there and there is no reason for the rest to still be there except that they are doing this out of pite and a lot of them has had helped to get out it time to quite feeling sorry for them and close the park and have the rest of the tenant out sorry but this is the truth.
BlFalconskeep October 26, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Most of the previous tenants are gone. There are only a few left and all but 2 of those left own thier trailers. Those few that own thier trailers recieved no help from FEMA and thier trailers are not the right models to get bought out from the FL commission of mobile homes (think thats the name of the agency). Those that are left are few and at least 1 is paying for thier own trash pick up. The few that are left are taking care of the property around thier trailers and are trying to keep at least a small section of the park looking decent. The 2 renters that are left? Well one is trying desperately trying to fix the house they own that looters have damaged when they broke in and stole the wiring. Takes money and tame to get things situated. The 2nd renter? Not sure whats up with him but he works so much he is rarely around and doesnt mess anything up. So far those that are left are trying to do right, but there is different perceptions as to what is right and what is wrong. The owner can at least say he has someone looking over the property and trying to keep up with the leaky and broken pipes around the park and mowing a decent size area of the common areas of the park and some trailers.
BlFalconskeep October 26, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I understand what you are saying Grace. Personally I think that the city should take away ownership of the property as soon as it is able to do so legally just like you would take away a child's toy if it continued to abuse it. The owner didn't take care of the property before it was closed down and still isnt taking care of it after it was closed down. Pure negligence to the tenants and property before and after. Too bad criminal charges couldnt be pressed as well.


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