TRUMBULL COUNTY Officials mull action against trailer park
The owner of the trailer park says he's doing what's necessary to make everybody happy.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HOWLAND -- Elizabeth Stoian doesn't want to be a nag, but, she says, "Sometimes, you can only take so much."
The Clermont Avenue Northeast woman is upset with what she says is the deterioration of her neighborhood of more than 40 years.
Chief among her concerns is the Shady Lane trailer park at the end of her street.
The park is in Howland, but much of the neighborhood is in Warren.
Complaints to a Warren councilman and to The Vindicator from residents and neighbors have been about rodents, empty trailers, garbage, debris, water and sewage-line leaks, health concerns and flooded back yards and sidewalks -- all from the park.
Malinda Pasco has lived in a house at 2056 Clermont for six years and has called the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which has contacted park owner Anthony Manson of Parma Heights.
Letter from agency: A letter dated June 7, 2000, from the Ohio EPA asks Manson to address drainage problems at the park, though the agency says it doesn't have authority in the matter because pollution was not found on the property.
Peter Killmer, EPA environmental engineer, said the EPA does recognize the property is "clearly a problem" in that it's a nuisance for neighbors like Pasco.
Flooding in Pasco's back yard last year got so bad, she said, "We nicknamed it 'The Swamp.'"
Manson said last week that five mobile homes in the park are being offered free to anyone who will remove them.
"We are doing what's necessary, and we will continue to, to make sure everyone's happy," he said.
In response to complaints, Manson said Wednesday that park managers have made a serious effort in the last week to clean up the land, mow vacant lots and make other improvements.
Pasco said she's seen some improvement, as grass has been cut and the park entrance was cleaned up.
Talked to residents: Warren Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd, was at Shady Lane last week, talking with residents and fire officials after a vacant trailer caught fire early May 3. The matter is being investigated.
George Buccella, county health board administrator, said Manson has been told numerous times to clean the park up and remove ramshackle trailers.
Buccella said a park manager has made some effort to clean things up but noted the owner will be held responsible.
"It's gotten to the point that we've tried to give him breaks, we've tried to work with him," Buccella said. "It has to be brought up to code."
Legal action possible: The county may decide to pursue legal action against Manson if major improvements are not made soon, Buccella said last week.
John Emanuel, Howland Township administrator, said Wednesday the township will take one last look at the park, likely next week, before deciding whether to take Manson to court.
"We're going to keep the pressure on [Manson]," Emanuel said. "He's an out-of-town property owner but he's got an obligation to keep the park up."
Part of the neighborhood used to be in Novak's ward before the 1994 redistricting of the area. He said he's stayed close with neighbors because of their concerns.
JoAnn Bouck has lived at Shady Lane for five years and said the park's streetlighting, general upkeep and appearance are unacceptable.
"We need to get all of these rundown trailers out of here," she said. "A lot of them are empty, and we'd like to get this place cleaned up."
Planning to move there: Tammy Postlethwait, her husband, Robert, and their daughter, Ashlee, were getting ready to move into the Shady Lane trailer that caught fire last week.
Few of the family's belongings had been moved in, but the Postlethwaits say they'll have to stay with relatives until they figure out what to do next.
Tammy Postlethwait said living conditions at the park need improving because "this is bad for kids living around here."
She estimates the park houses 70 or 80 trailers, many of which are vacant.
Other problems with property: Stoian complained about numerous cats that roam the neighborhood and park. She explained she's had to clean cat urine from the side of her house on several occasions.
Her property is across the street from the park, which she said is an eyesore, along with a house sitting on the edge of the park.
"I've called the [county] health department several times," Stoian said. "I don't like to argue with neighbors, but I've had a couple of strokes, and I can still manage to clean up after myself."
Waterline breaks and overflowing sewers flood the back yards of some Clermont residents, and water was seen last week flowing down the street and sidewalk. There is one shut-off valve for water in the park, meaning water to all trailers is shut off when there is a leak.
A driveway at 2046 Clermont had what looked to be a small stream flowing down it. Pallets placed on the ground allow the home's occupants to step from the driveway to the back porch without getting wet, Novak said.
"It's flowing like a river down through neighbors' yards," he said, explaining that flooding is a concern because mosquitoes breed on stagnant water and can carry dangerous viruses.
The problem, according to neighbors, is not isolated.
They say it's common in the winter to see water flowing from the park, into the neighborhood and onto the streets, sidewalks and driveways, where it freezes.