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

Sherry October 18, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I don't get it.......It was all the news "New Port Richey is going broke" let's double our non-ad valorem assessments. Well now that's happened, with little argument from residents. The city council has voted to spend $44,000 to release our city manager and $62,600 to clean-up a privately owned mobile home park. Where did they suddenly find $106,600? Which I might add, is only going to benefit 26 residents, an ex-employee and one group of four mobile park owners. In a city of how many, 15,000? Really city council members, you actually believe that these owners will pay this money back? How much more will it cost the tax payers in court costs to pursue a lien on said property? What's with the residents of Walden Pond, do they have to have a dumpster? They can't take it upon themselves to call and pay one of the many garbage companies that service New Port Richey. It's $12 a month to have your trash picked up twice a week! They are the one's creating this squaller, choosing to stay and live there. Being renters of the land, do they even pay taxes? I'm sure the city employees that lost their jobs do to recent budget cuts would like to have been beneficiaries of this new found money!
Alex Tiegen October 18, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Hi Sherry, City code requires the owners to have a dumpster or trash receptacles on the property, and they were cited for not having .
Sherry October 18, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Ya but Alex, Does city code state that is the only way trash can be disposed of on the property? The residents aren't allowed to take it upon themselves to clean-up their own mess? Just because the owners are not complying does not deem the residents helpless.
Alex Tiegen October 18, 2012 at 12:17 PM
At least one resident has paid for trash cans.
Alex Tiegen October 18, 2012 at 12:31 PM
City code rules on dumpsters are here. http://library.municode.com/HTML/11340/level3/PTIICOOR_CH10GARE_ARTIIIGACADU.html#PTIICOOR_CH10GARE_ARTIIIGACADU_S10-61NUSITY
Sandra Dornick October 18, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I have to agree with Sherry on some of these points. It would be interesting to know where this money came from to clean up private property and to let the city manager go (wasn't his contract up in Nov?). As she mentioned cleaning up Walden Pond only benefits a handful of people. I know it is unsightly to see when driving by, but if the city is setting a precedent to pay for demolition and clean up of private property, I would like them to start cleaning up areas around Moon Lake then. Where do sign up? This could open a can or worms for the city that I don't think they may have considered. I say fine the land owner, and give him a 30 day deadline, for the unsafe conditions, but putting the burden of $62K of taxpayers money in hopes they'll recover it ... doesn't look good.
Alex Tiegen October 18, 2012 at 03:00 PM
It was mentioned at the meeting that there were fmonies available in the council contingency fund. On the note of cleaning up around Moon lake, that area is actually outdo side city limits. It's address says NPR, but it's actually in unincorporated Pasco. (deleted a couple of my previous comment so I could give more accurate answers)
Michael Malterer October 19, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I understand that we had to clean this up because of health concerns but how long until the Hacienda Hotel becomes a health concern, or what if the now vacant First Baptist Church lot became a dumping area? Doesn't that raise the bigger question here? Why are we in so much debt? Why have we let the City Council raise taxes and fees this high? Why haven't we looked into zero-based budgeting solutions or selling off the properties that we own so that we can finally become solvent as a city?
Rob Marlowe October 20, 2012 at 10:43 AM
"Council contingency funds" are reserves built into each year's budget to cover unforeseen issues that come up. We fully intend to attempt to recover the money we spend cleaning up this privately created mess. Stepping in will allow us to cap the water lines going to the razed trailers, stopping the waste of tens of thousands of dollars of water each month. The FBC property doesn't have abandoned buildings on the site, nor does it have looters living on the property so that they can strip the buildings for scrap. I've talked with folks interested in saving the Hacienda as recently as yesterday and I've referred them to city staff to get access to see what it will take to get it rehabilitated. Don't get me started on the debt issue. Previous councils went on a spending spree with borrowed money. Drunken sailors would be offended by being compared to them. We are working to cut spending and raise revenues to balance the books and pay down debt. That is the only way the city will get it's financial house in order. Rob Marlowe, Deputy Mayor.
BlFalconskeep October 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM
One resident is paying for trash removal for themselves and another family through J.D. Parker. They are also working with several other residents to keep the areas around the occupied trailers mowed and free of debris. One resident is walking and doing random security to try to keep people out of unwanted trailers and is also fixing broken water pipes as they are found to try to keep things neat. So yes, the people that are still there are working on keeping themselves and the area around where they live kept up but the owner is responsible for the debris that is left all over the premises. Shouldnt he have to pay for a dumpster if these people are going to try to pick up messes from HIS property?
BlFalconskeep October 20, 2012 at 01:02 PM
What the city is planning to do is a boon for those in Walden Pond and the surrounding community. The debris can cause serious health risks due to injury of people going through, rats and other pests that come to find shelter in the abandoned trailers and eat from the pile of discarded trash were the dumpster was at. The waste of water is atrocious and I know that at least 3 residents of walden pond that are trying to keep up with capping the broken pipes due to scrapping. Those that are staying there are part of the ones at risk but the houses and people in the surrounding area are at risk as well. I am a taxpayer and homeowner in New Port Richey and I completely support the the city's decision to clean up the mess the owner apparently could give 2 cents less about.
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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