By Nancy Schaar
Sandy Creek Mobile Home Estates (formerly Kidder Mobile Home Park) residents will have water shut off to their homes Jan. 22, unless a miracle shows up.
“I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. We found out just before Christmas the owner is months behind in the water bill and can’t pay it. The water bill is included in our rent. Where are we supposed to go?” asked trailer park resident Candace Shepherd.
The trailer park has 43 lots available but only 28 are currently occupied. A resident said many of the empty homes are owned by Russell Reed, but are not inhabitable.
Reed lives in Cuyahoga Falls and claims to own Kidder Mobile Home Park, located on Citrus Road just outside of Malvern. At least his name is on the water bills from the village.
There is some confusion as to who actually owns the trailer park.
Residents received a letter from Lesley McCorkle a few years ago stating Carolyn Lawrence failed to pay the mortgage notes McCorkle holds. McCorkle advised residents lot or mobile home rentals should be paid to her.
Some residents rent their home and the lot. Other residents own their mobile homes and only pay lot rent.
In April of 2016, residents received a letter from Attorney John McCall telling them Lawrence had not kept up mortgage payments to Reed and payments must be made to Reed. But the letter also stated realtor Joe LaMonica would be marketing and selling the property for Reed. The letter stated rental payments were to be made out to Reed, but sent to LaMonica.
Malvern Village Administrator Marcus Benson said Reed currently owes the village water department $15,000. On Jan. 22, that amount will be more than 90 days overdue and the village has the authority to shut off the water to the trailer park for non payment.
“We don’t like doing this. We certainly don’t enjoy doing this. But other residents have their water turned off when they don’t pay the bill. It’s only fair that this customer is treated the same. It’s not what we want, but it is our responsibility,” said Benson.
The situation is a bit different because this trailer park was not annexed into the village. When someone receives water to their property, they are normally within the village boundaries. But somehow, years ago, a water meter was installed to handle all of the mobile homes in the trailer park.
Benson said last year there were many leaks found and repairs were made and it was determined that the water meter at the trailer park was not working properly and the village replaced it with a new one.
Long before Reed, the village wasn’t collecting what it was owed. It was losing money on the property.
The village owns the meter, but not the pipes or any of the connections to the mobile homes. And Benson said they are told there are many leaks in the park. But everything leading from the meter to the homes is the responsibility of the landowner.
“We’ve talked to Reed many times, we’ve tried working with him, but several months ago he just said he couldn’t pay it and that was it. We did recently receive $2,000 from him for the water bill. But the amount still due is still more than 60 days over due. On Jan. 22, the 90 days are up and disconnection is the next step,” said Benson.
With the new meter, usage of water in the park went from about 600,000 gallons per month to about 1,000,000 gallons per month. That took the water bill up to about $5,000 a month.
Looking for help, park residents approached Brown Township trustees, since the park is located in the township, but they were told there was nothing trustees can do to help.
Residents also attended a Malvern council meeting in December but again, council’s hands were tied since the land is not in the village and the water bill is over due.
Reed told residents he feels the water bill should be about $900 per month and he can’t possibly pay the high cost per month now.
Melissa Hill has lived there over 12 years. She said most of the occupants are handicapped or disabled, as witnessed by the many ramps leading to the doors of the homes.
Shepherd said there are some young families with small children there too. Most residents have lived there since the 1980’s.
Residents are confused and unsure of what to do. Most of the mobile homes are too old to even be moved to another trailer park if one could be found. Many parks will not accept homes that are beyond a certain age.
Shepherd has lived in the park since 1989. A few years ago she and her husband, now deceased, removed their old mobile home and replaced it with a new double wide home. Shepherd has said she has checked and can move her home for about $12,000. But that is just to move the home to another trailer park.
That does not include packing and boxing everything up, removing it, having to store it some place while the home is moved and set up somewhere else. She can’t find any place to move it too.
Shepherd said there are things the residents could do to help. She said trash, water, and sewer are included in their lot rent. Shepherd was willing to pay her own trash and thought other residents would help too if Reed would agree.
Resident Elaine Kidder said they were lucky because they actually own the strip of land their mobile home sits on. Kidder actually owns two more mobile homes on her piece of ground.
“We received a letter in November from Reed telling them the water bill had been raised from $1,500 to $5,800 per month. It’s sad but the park has been neglected for a long time,” said Kidder.
Carroll County Treasurer Jeff Yeager was contacted to determine who owns the trailer park.
The trailer park tax bill is under Carolyn Lawrence’s name. It gives her residence as Naples, Florida.
But the total on her delinquent tax bill is $270,846.12. That includes not only delinquent taxes, but also delinquent sewer bills, assessments by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, and other assessments.
Yeager said he spoke to the county prosecutor about foreclosing on the property for delinquent property taxes.
This isn’t the first time Lawrence has faced the same issue.
In May of 2015, residents of the Larwill Trailer Park in Wooster, owned by Carolyn and Richard Lawrence, received notices that the water would be shut off in 60 days for non payment.
Again, the trailer park residents were mostly older, disabled, on social security, and a few young families lived there as well.
Lawrence’s owed more than $200,000 in past due utility payments on the Larwill Trailer Park.
The city was forced to shut off water service July 6, 2015.
Lawrence went so far as to tell Larwill residents to have the homes in the trailer park dismantled and to give her the money they received from the scrap that was sold.
“We are relying on God. I don’t know what any of us are going to do or where we are going to go. There has to be an answer. We need more time. We just need more time,” said Shepherd.
Hill agreed and said, “God has to step in and help us.”
If even the Citrus Road residents got a reprieve and the water bill was paid and the water was not disconnected, the future for the residents would still be in the air if the property faces foreclosure.
“I wish there was something the village could do. But this owner owes this water bill to the village. It has to be paid in order to keep the water on. I wish we could help,” said Benson.