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Bulldozing begins

Courtney Astolfi • Nov 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Families uprooted, homes abandoned, money stolen and lives changed.

The saga of how Hoppers mobile home park fell into chaos after owner Joe Yost allegedly allowed water bills to go unpaid for years appears to be coming to a close.

On Friday, a lone excavator began clearing the Venice Road property of the remnants of the lives of those who once called it home.

Yost, who allegedly collected money from residents for water services but never paid the city, was arrested in October on two counts of felony theft. He bonded out of jail within just two hours to return to the comfort of his Catawba Island home.

His predominantly low-income tenants enjoyed no such luxury.

Dozens of former Hoppers residents were flushed from their homes after city officials turned off water access Aug. 1, citing the $260,000 bill Yost accrued between 2008 and 2013.

And now, the mobile homes many were forced to leave behind are being bulldozed.

Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci chose Herbst Excavating for the job, which should be complete in about five days or less.

The cleanup process comes after Ricci cited Yost for multiple fire code violations related to the property’s state of disarray.

On Wednesday the company will begin filling trash bins and hauling debris away. Only concrete slabs embedded in the ground will remain when they’re through, Ricci said.

City officials had three options when it came to assuming control of the property for cleanup efforts, law director Don Icsman said.

They could have moved the process through the courts, or they could have cited emergency conditions so they could get onto the property without Yost’s permission.

They went with the third and final option: ask Yost himself for approval to access the property.

On Oct. 30, Icsman sent a waiver form to Yost’s attorney, asking for access to Hoppers mobile home park to clear the site, Icsman said.

“We had contact with the owner’s attorney and we have what we need to move forward,” Ricci said Wednesday.

Herbst’s cleanup will cost $5,000, while rented trash bins will cost “no more than $9,500,” according to a proposal included in the waiver sent to Yost.

The city will use block grant funds to foot the bill. That money will hopefully be recovered after the city places a priority lien on Yost’s property, Ricci added.

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