Trailer court in Dassel is headache for Meeker County

June 9, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Meeker County Auditor Barb Loch called an 80-foot by 90-foot trailer site in the mobile home park at Todd Street in Dassel a “legal nightmare” Tuesday.

Lot 11 has a great renter, Michael Alford. He is prompt with his payments and keeps the lot clean, she told the Meeker County Board of Commissioners.

The site will have a problem getting electricity, however. The site’s electrical service comes from rotted posts and bent wires, what Xcel Energy has called an imminent danger to the neighborhood, she said.

The two lots on the site were forfeited in 2007 to the state because the owner, Luanne Denman of Eden Prairie, has not paid $42,000 in special assessments, mostly for water and sanitary sewer, Loch said.

Meeker County is entrusted with the care of the property because it is forfeited. Since Alford is a good tenant, and because the county is authorized by statute to make repairs and improvements that are necessary, Loch asked the county board to get the lot’s electrical service and its 75 feet of line repaired.

This is a quandary for the county, however, according to County Attorney Stephanie Beckman. The lot’s value is only $24,000. If the county pays to replace the two poles, a box and the feed, it might cost more than the lot is worth.

The assessments for water and sewer accumulated on the park as a whole in the past 10 years, and were not from just Lot 11, where Alford is staying. Long ago, the original owner of the mobile home park lived on that site, called the “caretaker’s lot.” It was in the back or north end of the park. The unpaid utilities were assessed to that site, and not the entire park. The site’s regular property taxes are only $412, Loch added.

Presently, the mobile home park has a different caretaker or manager’s lot, Lot 20.

Beckman said the owner of the park, who inherited it, is obligated to keep the entire park in compliance. Much of the trailer park has had hazardous conditions.

“There are a lot of children in this park,” Beckman said.

The Dassel City Attorney is working to change the assessments to be distributed to the entire park, where they incurred, instead of only on the former “caretaker’s lot,” Beckman said.

County Deputy Gordie Prochaska has been working tirelessly to get the park cleaned up, Deputy Bill Hudson told the Dassel City Council last Monday. One of the abandoned trailers was demolished. A second abandoned trailer frame is being cut up into pieces, he said.

Deputies found a mess of old tires and a shed with couches in it, Hudson added.

Beckman told the county board Tuesday to wait to find out how much the electrical work will cost. It might not be cost-effective to spend money on it, and it might create a liability for the county, she said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the county board:

• hired Travis Mackendanz of Eden Valley as the boat and water deputy for the county sheriff’s office.

• transferred Roxanne Rueckert of Litchfield to full-time deputy clerk in the county treasurer’s office.

• accepted the resignation of chief custodian Larry Jones with regret. Jones worked at the courthouse for 32 years. Commissioner Ron Kutzke said Jones was so dedicated that years ago he walked to the courthouse after a big snowstorm to shovel snow, and froze his foot.

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