Lakeside lots no scenic view

Officials plan to clean up blighted areas

Jerry White, president of the Lakeside Village board of directors, pauses to scan the property of an abandoned lot and trailer home during a tour May 6 of Lakeside Village near Perry Lake. Jefferson County officials plan to clear and clean many of these properties, many of which have been abandoned for years.

The windows are smashed, the doors are missing and so is most of the metal siding on the outside of the abandoned mobile home.

Inside, trash and debris cover the rotting floor. The tattered remains of clothing are piled in a bedroom closet. And dirt-covered dishes are stacked on a drying rack next to the kitchen sink where someone left them many years ago.

At least two dozen abandoned mobile homes in similar or worse condition are scattered throughout Lakeside Village near Perry Lake in Jefferson County.

“People just moved off and left them,” said Jerry White, Lakeside resident and president of its board of directors.

Nobody really knows why the owners abandoned their properties. They may have decided not to pay property taxes. Some may have died and relatives didn’t take care of the lots, White said.

During the past few months, White worked with Jefferson County commissioners on finding a way to get rid of the blight in the village. He also worked with county Treasurer Mary Underwood to find out which properties have unpaid taxes. Those that have gone unpaid for three years revert to county ownership and eventually will be sold.

A list of the most dangerous 13 lots was compiled.

“We consider them dangerous because they are abandoned buildings and abandoned vehicles,” White said. “Kids love to play in things like that. We want to get rid of them.”

On Monday, county commissioners reached an agreement with Ed Noble, of Oskaloosa, who will haul away the trash and mobile homes on those 13 properties. Noble’s payment will be whatever he can get for the material he hauls off through salvage. He said he could do the job in the 60 days.

“We just want to get it cleaned up,” Commissioner Don Edmonds said.

White and the county will soon begin identifying and compiling the next list of trashed properties to be cleared.

Lakeside Village was established by developers who staked out lots and sold them to prospective residents when Perry Lake was built in the late 1960s. The lake opened in 1970. In 1972, the county made the village an improvement district. It is similar to an unincorporated town but is overseen by a board of directors. The board can write resolutions that govern certain aspects of living there.

There are more than 500 lots in the village. Not all are developed or have cabins, houses or mobile homes on them. There are 150 occupied households with a mixture of families with children and retirees, White said.

“Most of the people here are pretty good,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of trouble.”

White, like many at Lakeside, is a retiree who moved there in 1990 from Kansas City, Mo. Dave Griffith, another retiree, has lived at Lakeside for 15 years. Behind his property and down a hill are two abandoned, torn up mobile homes. They’ve been there for years. He once called the sheriff when he saw two men tearing the siding off the trailers. He will be glad to see them hauled off.

“It’s nice out here,” he said. “It’s quiet. It’s country living.”