Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 11, 1999

Mobile home park owners discuss options with HL council

By Andrea Vargo

Dennis Peterson and Paul Phillips, owners of the Howard Lake Mobile Home Park, finally responded to a request by the city and appeared at the Howard Lake City Council meeting Tuesday.

Phillips spoke for the two, and he indicated all the work the city required in the old section of the park has been, or soon will be, done.

City Engineer Brad DeWolf said the work is up to city standards and all work that has to be finished will be inspected.

Phillips told the council that by the end of this week, he will ask the council to cancel the $300,000 letter of credit, because the money is spent on the project.

He wants the council to give him an extension on the requirement for a second access, since there is no land available for purchase to develop that access.

None of the property owners on the borders of the mobile home park are willing to sell land, said Phillips.

Another option would be for the city to develop 13th Avenue and create a second access to the park, said Phillips.

If that doesn't happen, Phillips said he would like the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District to consider the use of the property by the bus barn as a second access to the park.

City Clerk Gene Gilbert brought up the point that there is only one access for Dutch Lake Woods with a projected 50 families and one access for Shoreline Drive with all the apartments and single family dwellings.

Part of the problem with the mobile home park is the size and condition of the streets, said Councilman Tom Kutz.

As a fireman, his concern deals with the access for emergency vehicles.

Kutz stated that a fire truck can hardly make it down the streets, and in addition, there isn't enough water pressure to be able to use the waterlines for a fire.

"We have to use a dump tank," said Kutz.

Mayor Gerry Smith told the assembled mobile home park residents that the owners are complying with setbacks and state codes.

Almost every lot is 40 feet wide and from 70 to 110 feet long, said Phillips.

The lots will accommodate a double wide unit, and almost all the lots are oversized, he said.

DeWolf told the council that manhole covers need to be sealed so they don't contribute to storm water running into the sewer system. That will happen this week, he said.

One of the biggest concerns for the council is the storm shelter the park owners agreed to in the original contract.

Although the contract stipulates a storm shelter large enough to accommodate all the residents of the mobile home court shall be built by Jan. 1, 2000, Phillips only said he hoped it could be completed.

The shelter, when constructed, will meet the Minnesota State Building Code, and will provide approximately 10 square feet for the average 2.5-person family, said Phillips.

Residents of the park waited their turn to ask questions of the owners while they were still in front of the council.

Smith told the owners that residents would like to organize, but they are afraid.

A tenants organization would not place any residents in danger of losing their place in the mobile home park, said Phillips.

Both owners were vague about whether they would listen to such an organization, but didn't come right out and refuse, either.

Concern for the apparent lack of communication between the residents of the park and the owners cropped up several times while the council was speaking with Phillips and Peterson.

Residents repeatedly complained they couldn't get the owners to return their calls.

Smith told Phillips and Peterson the council was concerned about their lack of support for the residents and lack of follow-through on complaints by residents in their park.

Then, Kutz said to Phillips, "When I look at the upper area (of the park), it is not maintained by the owners, so how can you expect the people in the trailers to maintain their areas?"

Although the council agreed there has been quite a bit of improvement in the park, but they said there is still a long way to go.

One citizen asked if there was any chance of getting a fence along the property line to keep children out of neighboring properties.

Phillips said he thought it was the responsibility of neighboring properties to place their own fences.

A park for children was another hot topic.

"Are you going to put in a park?" asked one park resident.

"No," said Phillips.

Grass will cover the area where the old barn was removed, and kids can play there if they want, he said.

Pointing to the poor quality streets and potholes, Smith asked if Phillips was going to fix the streets.

Phillips vaguely referred to the possibility of getting someone in to patch those areas, but didn't make a of commitment on this, either.

Smith, Kutz, Paschke, and DeWolf will speak with the school administration to determine whether or not access through the bus garage property might be a temporary solution for Phillips and Peterson.

"We don't want to put them out of business," said Smith. There must be a solution everyone can live with, he said.

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