Friday, October 10, 2008

The Trailer Park

There's a trailer park next to the shop, and it's a sort of Boulevard of broken dreams.  It is owned by an elderly woman who's husband, an old friend of my late father-in-law, died a few months ago.

A few years ago the owners decided to sell, and the people who lived in the park basically got screwed, as their homes were too old to move to a new park, and no one wanted them.  Given their age, it's not surprising; some of these homes were pretty run down.  Most of them were clean and tidy, despite their age, and there was definitely pride in this little neighborhood.

I say "was."

Suddenly faced with the prospect of moving with just a few month's notice, a lot of the folks just abandoned their homes as the cost of removing them was more than the value of the home itself.  The woman who now owns the park didn't do much to help the folks who were there...she is a sad case herself, now alone with no family or anyone to help her.  One of her long-time tenants went to the husband's funeral a few months ago and was told she couldn't stay.  She wasn't disruptive, she was just friends with the old landlord, and the not-so-stable landlady kicked her out of the service.  So sad.

At any rate, the park is deserted.  Some of the homes have had the doors kicked open and squatters have been moving in and out of them, but that's now under control, but I took a walk in the park to see what was up, being a good neighbor at all.

What I saw was shocking and more than a little depressing.  Some of the homes are trashed on the inside, holes punched in the walls, paint and other substances smeared all over the inside, sinks and toilets broken with hammers, and windows smashed.  Others looked as if they were ready to move in, emptied in an orderly fashion and in one, the carpet had been vacuumed and it was ready for occupancy.  The only thing left in that one was an AA pamphlet.

I called the city administrator and asked if he knew the condition of the park, and he had heard it wasn't so good.  Turns out the landlady has a contract with a salvage company to remove the rest of the trailers by the end of the year.  So the place will be sanitized and sweetened up and ready for development...but the asking price is twice the assessed value, and as I said, Mrs. Landlady is not really operating in the Universe of Reality.

There are some startling signs of life still, lawnmowers and rakes leaning against houses, barbeque grills just waiting to be fired up, yellow pages stacked on porches.  There are palpable remnants of a small community, and these people were our neighbors for years...and very good neighbors they were.  Better than any security company, they more than once called the police when I came to pick up a boat in the late evening.  Inevitably the cops would roll up, look at me and say, "Thought it was you.  Don next door called and said someone was in the back stealing a canoe."

Thanks, Don.  I hope you landed on your feet, my friend.

Respectfully submitted,



Silbs said...

It is, indeed, a sad tale. Having paddled past this small kingdom many times, I can only come up with one solution: clean it up, and then burn it.Wait, those aren't some of the fore closure properties we've been reading about, are they? Is some fat cat in Washington getting rich on those things?

Green Laker said...

So sad, but hopefully sometime in the near future the area will come back to life. Maybe once developers can get credit after the Financiapocalypse of recent days.

canoelover said...

I'm trying to get something going there...low-cost housing. It's amazing how the "numbers work" if you're not trying to make money on the deal.

pete witucki said...

Canoelover - another beautiful, insightful post. I've heard a lot of negative things about the trailer park paddling with different folks in and out of the pond. Mostly negative things - kick them out, it's an eyesore, etc. Yes it is prime real estate, and yes it isn't the most aesthetic use of the property, but I've always been a little sad about this reaction; why should only people of greater means have the right to live on that cool little parcel? I thought it just that these people, struggling (as we all do, but in their own way), should have the joy of seeing the sun rise over the river every morning, through the window of their trailer. I'm also saddened that they've gone, and hope that the next use of that land is equally righteous. But I'm doubtful.