City won't delay water shutoff

Sandusky city commissioners, staff blame property owner
Register
Jun 25, 2013

By TOM JACKSON and ANDY OURIEL   
news@sanduskyregister.com

Sandusky city commissioners and other public officials are weighing in on the crisis at Hoppers mobile home park, where nearly a dozen residents are just weeks away from possible homelessness.   

While some commissioners continue to struggle for answers, others have placed themselves smack in the middle of the fray, fighting to help the park's residents as the city marches toward an Aug. 1 deadline to shut off the park's water service.

Click here to for related articles, news video and photos.       

The property owner, Joe Yost, is tens of thousands of dollars behind on payments for water service at the mobile home park. The residents have said they paid Yost for water service, but city officials said Yost never paid the water bill.   

Last week, the Register asked all seven city commissioners to respond to this question: "Do you believe the city should attempt to do something to help the residents, either by delaying the deadline for them to move, or by helping them with financial assistance so that they can successfully relocate? Or is the city willing to supply them with individual water meters, or individual billing accounts, so that residents who pay their monthly water bill can continue to receive service?"

Commissioners Diedre Cole, Jeff Smith and Julie Farrar responded to the Register before Monday's commission meeting, either by email or phone.  

Commissioner Wes Poole sent an email Saturday that said he was having email problems. At Monday's meeting, he had little to say. 

Commissioners John Hamilton, Pervis Brown and Keith Grohe did not reply, although they offered a few quick opinions on the matter at Monday's meeting.   

Smith, Cole and Farrar said they do not favor extending the deadline for the planned shutoff of water service at the mobile home park, even as some residents continue struggling to find a new place to live. 

•Said Cole: "No one can accuse the city of acting hastily in this situation and Mr. Yost was provided every opportunity to rectify this problem well before now. I also don't support extending the deadline; that's what got us to this point, we simply need to fix the problem."

•Said Smith: "It is the city of Sandusky's responsibility to provide water to all residents in Sandusky, it is the responsibility of the property owner to pay that bill, he has not."

•Said Farrar: "Mr. Yost was put on notice in March the water was going to be shut off. We are at a point where Mr. Yost has to pay his bills."

Others at the meeting who addressed the issue: 

•Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci: "The city of Sandusky cannot go into a mobile home community and enforce the code ... No one in our city should ever have to live like this. How do we prevent this from happening again? I'll tell you how: I'm going to park myself on (city law director Don) Icsman's doorstep to strengthen our code ... so we can mitigate trash, tires, grass weeds, unsafe and unhealthy conditions." 

•Sandusky finance director Hank Solowiej: "We had people living there unknowingly paying rent to a landlord who is not paying us. That brought up a more collaborative effort of talking to the police chief, fire chief, public safety concerns going on out there, discussions with the Erie County Board of Health about the public health issues out there. And I think we all became aware that, with the water issue aside, there were many issues going on out there that concerns a lot of agencies. ... The city wasn't being the bad guy, it was all of us trying to work together to get the people somewhere else. It's not their fault we are in this situation — the property owner is responsible for this. That is where the blame needs to be." 

•Erie County environmental health director Bob England: "The city of Sandusky brought this to our attention, taxes that weren't paid and utilities that weren't paid for quite some time. And their only recourse is to shut off the water. The determination is when, how and why do they do that? When you shut off water to a community like this, the water is the lifeblood of the community. ... If the water is shut off, there are all sorts of health consequences. .... In discussing that with the city, the city manager's office and also the fire department, we all agreed to meet with the community and make them aware of the resources that are out there." 

Ricci, England and city officials organized a meeting earlier this month near Hoppers mobile home park, where they met with residents in hopes of pointing them to social services and other public assistance available. 

This past week, some of the residents said they're still struggling to find a new home or cobble together resources to secure a new place.   

England said that of the 30 homes at the mobile home park, "five or six are in limbo and, of those five or six, two or three have an option (for) a waiting list." 

Cole, however, spent much of last week out at the park, helping residences clean the place and learning more about each person's individual needs. She said there are at least 10 families or individuals still in need of assistance. 

"In the old days, when neighbors faced hardships, everyone pitched in and helped," Cole said. "Government was a last resort, not a first. Whatever happened to that? Maybe the Register could start a fund at a local bank to which I will gladly contribute what I can."

Ricci said the community event he helped organized for the park's residents was intended to lead them to viable solutions. 

"Only time will tell if we were successful or not," Ricci said at Monday's commissions meeting, his voice emotional. "I find it incredibly inexcusable for anyone, anywhere to interpret our efforts to be meaningless or ineffective. We care about our city — we want what's best for our citizens and we will get it done." 

Farrar said city officials may be willing to help the residents on a case-by-case basis until everyone has been housed.

Smith, also a landlord, said he will try to help anyone who calls him.

 

Comments

Browndog271

Why is title to the property in the Company, Westgate LLc which is owned by Joe Yost? Sheriif sale the park to someone to buy it.

FlyBoy86

Because Westgate LLC owns the property?

Browndog271

Yes, but if he went bankrupt, it would be sold to settle creditors. Why wait, just like the water bill, most people would be turned off after several months.

Cowboy

Gee, I wish I had tens of thousands of dollars worth of free water! Where do I sign up for that! And I'd like to supersize that order with a free Obama phone and food stamps please!

doggie mom

I am assuming the residents did not receive free water. They paid the water bill with lot rent like most parks have it set up. You pay the bill to the landlord and he is suppossed to pay the bill. He did not. I just do not understand WHY the city let's it get to the point of no return UNLESS they are looking at doing exactly what has happened. I know if my water is not paid it doesn't go by a 2nd month and it will get shut off...this s ridiculous!

saxkris

No one got Free Water but the Park Owner!

gene44870

ROLMFAO @ COWBOY ,You arent right ...

happyfeet64

Cowboy, that is one of the stupidest comments I've read in awhile! Did you think that up off the top of your head or had to mull it over for a few hours? Not to mention downright mean.

doggie mom

Thanks so much Ms. Cole for being an extreme help as always to the people who are your constituents. You are as much a problem to this city's situation as anyone. Mr. Yost should be held responsible and should be in jail. No one is going to buy that area and help those people. The city wants to shut it down and sell it to a fast food joint so they can make money off that corner when the overpass is finally finished.

gramafun

if this is fact, then AMEN to what you wrote.

doggie mom

I LOVE how Ms. Cole states "In the old days, when neighbors faced hardships, everyone pitched in and helped," Cole said. "Government was a last resort, not a first. Whatever happened to that? Maybe the Register could start a fund at a local bank to which I will gladly contribute what I can."

As she lives on government assistance...

MrSandusky

Why should the Register start the fund? Why not Ms. Cole or anyone else for that matter?

deertracker

Is she even old enough to know bout the "old days"?

heaven-leigh

LOL! BURN!!!!!

gene44870

Yea and its an insult to the residents of the park not to mention the voters of Sandusky , that the city will help with finding housing for the displaced residents of the park , when they said that before and have done nothin to fix the problem that they {are in part if not more } responsable for . You have blow enough smoke up the butts of not only the residents of that park as well as voters , but the voters of the intire city .
If you are going to do something about this mess , then stop talking and start doing . actions speak louder then words . and if you arent , then dont tell the voters you are .
The city is punishing the residents for something that is out of their controll while the owner just sit there and does nothin .This in my book is so very wrong , Get with it Sandusky
And its like I said before , if it were me and I lived there , I would spend eery moment on tring to get a attorney to for a restraining order against the city to prevent this injustice from accuring with people that havent done anything wrong

Commenter

I agree with this wholeheartedly!!

happyfeet64

i agree with everything you said, Gene-I think it's an injunction though that they need.

camero

some of the resident have started scraping there homes for money so if they all have to move soon is the city going to bulldoze the rest because alot of them home are in really bad shape i think there is more to this story then what we are being told because the city can put meters on all the homes and charge that way

VTX Rider

Someone at the Water Dept. must be responsible for overdue billing. Right?
Who is that person?
Where is the accountability? They need to be fired for letting this go. Why is it not feasible to let the residents pay their water bill to the city?
Does the city really need to shut if off now, after what, two years?
Why wasn't this addressed with the owner once the bill was past due say 90 days? Maybe it was.
Is there a hidden agenda?
So many questions, all of which will go unanswered.

Ms. Ard, do you have a comment or perhaps a better solution than shutting of the water for these people and forcing them to move?

007

The ironey of Cole's statement really sets me off. She is receiving section 8 metro housing, which means the taxpayer is paying for her housing as well as probably food stamps.

Commenter

A commissioner that gets section 8 housing?

doggie mom

THAT"S WHAT I SAID!!!!

T. A. Schwanger

With the coming of the overpass on Route 101 the City is beginning to see development at Venice and Tiffin Ave---Dollar General, the old Martin Motors demo and reuse.

While the entire current commission and staff can not be blamed for this issue, the fact still remains this should not have gone on for 5 years and $50,000 later. Let's hope the City is not playing games with the remaining folks at Hopper Trailer Park. This could end up being one of the Land Bank properties where the City takes control, ousts the residents, pays for demolition, sells the property to a developer for pennies and forgives any liens on the property with no hope of recouping a red cent.

If only the walls at City Hall could talk and tell the 5 year story.

The Answer Person

Yep...always there with a kind word...

T. A. Schwanger

###
AnswerPerson

And where do you stand on this issue? What is your answer (person)?

God Of Thunder

Well I'll tell you..The Martin property was bought by a private indisvidual...So what's your point..

T. A. Schwanger

###

God of Thunder

To the best of my knowledge, the Martin Motors went thrugh the usual sales transaction process from one developer to another--not the Land Bank Program.

Properties going through a Sheriff Sale and are sold for a portion of the land/structure value.

If a sale is not made to a private individual at the Sheriff Sale, the property can go into the Land Bank Program (City ownership)where property can be sold for pennies on the dollar (or less), and back taxes and liens can/are forgiven. New property taxes are generated, however the City only gets approx. 3%-5% of the property tax.

Julie R.

T.A. Schwanger is right on the money about the Land Bank!

meplus5

Cole can donate money but she can't pay her own rent and utilities? Shes on public housing. She chooses to only work as a comissioner and not hold a job other than as a comissioner just so she can live off all of us. Amazing! And her husband can't work either?

"In the old days, when neighbors faced hardships, everyone pitched in and helped," Cole said. "Government was a last resort, not a first. Whatever happened to that? Maybe the Register could start a fund at a local bank to which I will gladly contribute what I can."

http://erie.iviewauditor.com/Dat...
Parcel: 58-60003.000
Owner: ERIE METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY
Address: 1612 CAMP OH

dorothy gale

As tempting as it is to trash Commissioner Cole, this is NOT ABOUT HER! It is about residents who paid their monthly bills and are getting screwed over in spite of that! Sieze all of the deadbeat landlord's assets and leave the water on! Why should the residents have to be punished for Yost's misdeeds? What about personal accountability? Make HIM pay, dangit!

Pages