Thursday, February 15, 2001

Residents sad, frustrated as they vacate trailer park

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        UNION — Shayla Haynes couldn't help but cry.

        Shayla is just 2 years old, but her tears Wednesday as she watched the truck pull her grandmother's trailer away from Hillside Mobile Home Park pretty much expressed what the grown-ups felt.

        Today is final moving day, but not because Hillside tenants want to leave. It is the deadline for the 40 or so residents to move after Boone Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger ordered the park closed because of unsafe drinking water and problems with the sanitation and sewer systems.

[photo] Gregory Skeene repacks with grease the wheel bearings of a trailer he plans to use to to haul some of his belongings from Hillside Mobile Home Park, which has been ordered closed by today.
([name of photographer] photo)
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        Shayla's mother, Helen Haynes, said her mother-in-law — and Shayla's grandma, Jean Haynes — is moving to a Florence apartment. The trailer is going to a campground near Carrollton.

        “(Shayla's) just torn up 'cause her grandma's trailer is torn out,” said Mrs. Haynes, 25.

        For the junior Mrs. Haynes, Hillside was as much a family homestead as a trailer park, with several relatives living there.

        Helen Haynes summarized the situation in one word: Frustrating.

        “We were planning on moving,” she said. “We just didn't want to be pushed.”

Next to state park

        Several abandoned trailers with broken windows and the hulk of one that burned two months ago occupy part of the 23-acre park just west of Big Bone Lick State Park.

        The state's Parks and Recreation Department in Frankfort has a contract to buy the park from owner Jim Hicks of Morningview. The sale is pending environmental assessments.

        Mr. Hicks is asking $4 million for the property on Boat Dock Road. He said earlier this month if the state doesn't want to pay his price, there are other potential uses such as a gas station, auto-parts store or mobile home or farm equipment sales.

        An appraisal of the park was done last fall, but state officials have declined to disclose the appraised value. The state's agreement with Mr. Hicks expires in March.

        Most of the land isn't zoned for commercial use, said Kevin Wall, director of zoning services at the Boone County Planning Commission office in Burlington.

Health complaint filed

        Today also ends a yearlong battle over the park on Boat Dock Road in southern Boone County.

        The final skirmishes began last August, when the Northern Kentucky Independent Health District filed a complaint against Mr. Hicks.

        Judge Bamberger originally ordered the park closed in August, but granted an extension a month later to allow Mr. Hicks to make changes to improve water and sewer. When that didn't happen, Judge Bamberger in December again ordered the park closed.

        Many of the residents left their trailers because the structures are too old for mobile-home parks to accept.

        Judge Bamberger's order calls for all the trailers to be removed from Mr. Hicks' land.

        Mr. Hicks said earlier this month he would have to pay someone to haul off any trailers residents don't take and was considering legal action against tenants to recoup that cost.

        “I'd almost have to, 'cause I don't need their junk sitting there,” Mr. Hicks said then. “I've got to pay somebody to move it.”

        Mr. Hicks declined to comment Wednesday.

Leaving gardens behind
        Instead of junk, Mary McDaniel thought about produce Wednesday.

        Mrs. McDaniel and her husband, John, have lived at Hillside since 1979. They cleared nearly an acre of what Ms. McDaniel called “horse weeds” and planted vegetables and peach trees.

        “It used to be like a dump,” said Mrs. McDaniel, 49. “(We grew) tomatoes, onions, green peppers, corn, lettuce ... (The weeds) were as tall as the trailer.”

        The McDaniels have purchased a newer trailer and are moving to a park in Richwood.

        Mrs. McDaniel doesn't know how they'll dispose of the old one — though a “For Sale” sign hangs in front — and she wants to stay at Hillside through this weekend to finish packing and find the stray cat that has been missing three days.

        “Then, it'll hit me,” Mrs. McDaniel said. “That'll probably be when it hits most people.”

Sticking it out
        Most residents have found places to stay in either Boone, Carroll or Gallatin counties. Some will move in with family until their new homes are ready.

        But Lenny Haynes, 40, said he has to stick it out at Hillside for another two weeks. He said his trailer in Napoleon in Gallatin County has a new floor, but a frozen water line has to be replaced — and he said he can't move in or afford utilities until his disability check comes through in two weeks.

        “I'll stay until they run me out,” he said. “If they run me out, then I'll go. I'm trying to keep it together.”


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