Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2012

While residents have fled troubled trailer park, tons of trash remain

August 15, 2012


All that’s left is the mess.

City officials confirmed that the final residents of the Riverview Trailer Park in North Lawrence recently have moved out of the trailer park that became the subject of numerous sanitation and environmental code investigations by the city in April. The residents are now gone, but they certainly aren’t forgotten. There are signs of them everywhere. About 20 abandoned and unsecured trailers remain at the park at 827 Walnut St.

Visible through the windows of the trailers are scenes of lives suddenly moved. A jar of peanut butter and a bottle of honey sit on a dining room table. Toys, such as a remote control car and a basketball, remain in the living room of another trailer. A toilet, oddly, rests on the deck of one unit. Mattresses, couches, small appliances, even cans of coffee are strewn about other homes. And everywhere there is lots of trash.

But perhaps the most fitting item left behind is a movie: “The Little Shop of Horrors.”

City officials aren’t yet ready to declare the abandoned park a horror, but they are becoming concerned about the potential for problems if the park isn’t soon cleaned up.

“If the owner can’t clean up the property, we’re going to have to do it for him,” said Brian Jimenez, code enforcement manager for the city. “We’ll need to have a discussion about that issue in the very near future because we obviously don’t want anyone in those units.”

Because the property has been found to be in violation of multiple city codes, the city can use its legal authority to clean up the property and assess the costs to the property’s future taxes.

George Warren, the California-based owner of the property, said his finances currently won’t allow him to clean up the property.

“There is only so much I can do,” Warren said. “The city won’t allow me to continue operating, so it has put me in a bind financially. Now, it looks like it will be everyone’s problem.”

Warren does have the approximately 1 acre trailer park up for sale. Lawrence real estate agent Don Schmidt said he’s listing the property for approximately $190,000 and hopes to find someone who wants to open a new trailer park on the property.

City officials said there is much work that will have to be done before they’ll allow residential development to take place on the property.

“Most, if not everything, just needs to go,” Jimenez said. “They just need to start over with a clean slate.”

Jimenez said city officials to this point largely have been focused on getting all residents out of the park. He said the city did extend several deadlines to give people time to find other housing.

“It was going to create a homeless situation for most of those folks, if we stuck to firm deadlines,” Jimenez said. “I think we made a good decision to be flexible. I think everybody was able to find alternative housing. It may not be the housing they want, but they found other accommodations.”

City officials in April declared several trailers at the park unfit for habitation when inspectors found several units discharging raw sewage onto the ground, faulty wiring and large amounts of debris in living units.

Other parks

The park was at least the second in the city that closed down in Lawrence within the last year. Residents of the Gaslight Mobile Home Village near 31st and Iowa streets also began vacating their properties after the park was sold to a Texas-based group that plans to build student apartments on the site.

There had been speculation that a third park also was on the verge of closure. But attorneys for the Jayhawk Court mobile home park in the 1400 block of East 15th Street said that while that property is going through a foreclosure proceeding, there are no plans to close the park.

“There likely will be a sheriff’s sale at some point, but there is no reason to think that this mobile home park is going to close,” said Cal Karlin, a Lawrence attorney representing The University National Bank. “It would seem that whoever buys it likely will want to maintain it as a trailer park.”

Jimenez said he thinks the city still has adequate numbers of mobile home lots available to accommodate people who have been displaced. But he said there is a growing issue of older mobile homes falling into significant disrepair.

“Those type of dwelling units serve a purpose, and we recognize that, but, most importantly, we want them to be code compliant,” Jimenez said. “To no one’s surprise, when they reach 30 to 40 years old, they are often in very poor condition.”


lawdog 5 years, 2 months ago

JWorld, will you comment back to let us know if we will be allowed to take some of the scrap fencing? I could use some of fencing left behind for a few projects I am doing.

otto 5 years, 2 months ago

Buy the property and you can have it. Otherwise it is owned by someone else.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

And, just how do you know that lawdog gets "gubbment cheez?"

lawdog 5 years, 2 months ago

We build animal kennels to help some of the local shelters with some of the fencing materials. Why would you say that?

Loretta James 5 years, 2 months ago

while we are sorry people lost their home like my grandson guess the owner shoudnt have told him he couldnt get him closed down. It was time the owner quit taking rent money and not fixing nothing.

snitty 5 years, 2 months ago

I am so glad that this trailer court is closing. I hope that zoning will revert to single family residential like the rest of the neighborhood. Perhaps Habitat would be interested in expanding their adjacent "Comfort Lane" lower income development, which seems to be successful.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 2 months ago

I shouldn't laugh, but that is grand, haha.

Phoghorn 5 years, 2 months ago

I noticed that too. Really LJW? Don't give some smart aleck the opportunity to think that the word "trash" is a pronoun.

LadyJ 5 years, 2 months ago

I'd be willing to bet there is a lot of scrap metal worth a lot of money there. Either let someone come in and remove it free of charge (must take everything) or the city can sell the metal themselves and put the money towards the clean up.

JackMcKee 5 years, 2 months ago

I wonder how Lawrence compares to other Kansas communities as far as number and size of trailer parks.

matahari 5 years, 2 months ago

sign of the times..makes me want to watch a few episodes of Trailor Park Boys...sad that folks had to live in such decrepid dwellings, but it sure as heck beat livin on the streets~

LeBo 5 years, 2 months ago

City uses their powers unfairly. In East Lawrence the Homes are falling down. Porches are unstable etc. Homes are not painted. However, poor are picked on for owning a trailer.

average 5 years, 2 months ago

These were not 'owning a trailer', these were all rental trailers (though the difference is somewhat blurry with high lot rents and minimal-cost trailers in other parks, the absentee owner in this case was supposedly responsible for functional toilets, heater repairs, etc).

They were also renting for more per month than many apartments in town that are at least somewhat maintained. One must assume the residents were mostly people whose history wouldn't allow them to rent anywhere were histories are checked. I guess maybe a few who just preferred the lifestyle.

Meatwad 5 years, 2 months ago

I've seen very nice trailer parks where people cared about their property. This was not one of them. No one is picked on just for owning a trailer. The landlord didn't make the repairs to the property AND the residents chose to live in such a way that it violated codes as opposed to not letting debris pile up, being a little bit cleaner, etc. Maybe some needed some help (various kinds of help), for sure. I'll bet the scrap metal (if there is any) just gets stolen instead of being sold by the city to help pay for clean up.

friendlyjhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Tons of trash? City has a remedy for that. Send out the workers with some of this new trash containers and let 'em fill 'em up!

sarahnicole27 5 years, 2 months ago

The owner needs to offer a small corner to the city for a rec closet or some other project, the only catch is he would need money to rehab the area.

Phoghorn 5 years, 2 months ago

My comment was in reference to one by Lateralis which has been disapeardedededed. It was not in reference to sarahnicole27. I am not refering to her as a dude....

geekin_topekan 5 years, 2 months ago

What are the rules concerning the movement of these trailers? Something like over 15 years and they are not legal on the streets, I believe. This in not a bad rule, it keeps the streets safe because the debris that could blow off of the dilapidated home-siding, shingles and such.

What i see as scam artists are those who sell these run down homes to people who are ignorant of the rules. While owning one's trailer home sounds like a grand idea (lower rent, property of some kind), they don't see the bad in the transaction. They can never move the darned thing unless they trailer it and shrink wrap. The costs for the transport often exceed the value of the trailer itself. Meanwhile the landlord laughs all the way to the bank having unloaded his garbage on a gullible person.

While it is always a good idea to educate oneself before making such commitment, preying upon the ignorant is criminal.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe a new six-story hotel on the lot would solve that whole area's problem!

whatever95 5 years, 2 months ago

Doug Compton, where are you? This would be another great project for you!

North Lawrence would love the development of a great big skyscraper!

Tammy Copp-Barta 5 years, 2 months ago

Keep Doug Compton OUT OF North Lawrence, please!

Jayhawk_4_Life 5 years, 2 months ago

everyone stays out of North Lawrence if they can help it

Clark Coan 5 years, 2 months ago

Now, what about the about the trailer park behind Johnny's. Isn't a riverfront development going to be built there?

Unfortunately, the residents of the Riverview Park lived up to the stereotype of TT. Maybe the homeless can live there temporarily. Might be better than living in a tent along the river.

burnmu 5 years, 2 months ago

back in the early 40's something like this happened for the first time ever and it happened to be in missouri

John Hamm 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, the city's closed down something else so the developers can have the property dirt cheap. Jeezzz doesn't anybody around here see what's going on? Guess not.

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Take a good look......This is what the older apartment complexes will look like in 5 years and more in 10 years and more in..Well, you get my point!

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

The city should take the land from him. Out of town slum lords are the worst. He probably has lots of money, but poor, pitiful guy can't be bothered. Take the land Lawrence.

5 years, 2 months ago

The city should come over to Brookwood because there are trailers that are there that is old and some that came from Gaslight ain' t no better either. You should tell the city to look in to it.

lawdog 5 years, 2 months ago

I knew people that lived there and they worked just like all the rest of us! So stop judging everyone on just a few bad apples.

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