Riverdale mobile home park tenants offered money to help with move | News, Sports, Jobs

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An abandoned recreational vehicle and other items can be seen at Lesley’s Mobile Home park in Riverdale on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

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Abandoned items at Lesley’s Mobile Home park in Riverdale are visible Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

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An abandoned mobile home unit and other items at Lesley’s Mobile Home park in Riverdale can be seen Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

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An abandoned recreational vehicle and mobile home and other items at Lesley’s Mobile Home park in Riverdale are pictured Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.

Tim Vandenack, Standard Examiner

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RIVERDALE — The owner of the Riverdale mobile home park that’s being vacated to make way for development is offering residents $1,500 to $3,000 if they depart early.

Some residents have expressed concern about the financial hit they may face on leaving Lesley’s Mobile Home park given the typically higher cost of renting apartments and other housing types. “As we prepare for the park to officially close on May 31, 2023, park ownership is offering to help alleviate some of the financial burdens of vacating the park,” reads the letter park management sent last Friday, supplied by a former resident.

Per the offer, tenants may get $3,000 if they move out and hand over the keys and titles to their mobile homes by Feb. 1, a little more than two weeks away. They can get $1,500 if they move out by March 1.

A mobile home park rep didn’t immediately respond to queries Monday seeking comment. But some from Lesley’s expressed skepticism about the offer, the only one that will be made to residents, the Lesley’s letter reads.

“I think it’s a joke,” said former resident Tonya Rotunda, noting the expense she incurred in finding another place to live and the emotional toll of having to leave. “I’ve had to borrow money from every person almost that I know. It’s putting me in a really, really dark place mentally.”

Minerva Gallegos, still living at Lesley’s, noted the short time frame to meet the Feb. 1 deadline to get $3,000. “Moving out in two weeks — it’s just impossible to find another place,” she said, noting the comparatively high cost of renting apartments.

News of the proposed redevelopment of the parcel where Lesley’s sits emerged last year and it’s been a cause of consternation among some residents ever since. A formal redevelopment proposal has yet to emerge, but Riverdale officials last year rezoned the land where Lesley’s sits to permit development of apartments and townhomes, and one of those involved in the plans has spoken of pursuing a “multi-family project.” Late last summer, reps from Lesley’s, owned by an entity called H&H 39th Street, sent residents notices advising them they’d have to leave by May 31.

With a shortage of affordable housing up and down the Wasatch Front, closure of mobile home parks like Lesley’s — a relatively low-cost housing option — is cause for concern for the lower-income tenants of such places. The ongoing closure of Cedarwood Mobile Home in Layton has similarly caused worry among the residents there.

Just last week, a former Lesley’s resident and her nephew were arrested on arson charges in connection with what officials maintain was the intentional torching of the mobile home unit at Lesley’s where she used to live. The woman, who along with her nephew her has pleaded not guilty, had faced eviction per an order earlier this month by a 2nd District Court judge.

The turmoil notwithstanding, many have already left Lesley’s, evidenced by vacant lots and the boards covering the doors and windows of many now-empty units. Lesley’s has 55 lots for mobile homes.

Even so, it’s been a tumultuous process. Belongings of some who have left are scattered and abandoned outside on their former lots. Some vacant units show signs of forced entry, perhaps by squatters or others looking to scavenge items left behind.

Jason Williams, who remains in Lesley’s as he searches for a park that will accept his unit, said a neighbor vacated her unit near his and it’s since been broken into. The door was open to the vacant mobile home on Monday and Gallegos, who also lives nearby, said she’s seen a stranger twice seemingly coming from the unit.

“I thought maybe he’s just living in there but I don’t know,” she said.

Rotunda, now living in an Ogden apartment, said she locked up her unit after moving, leaving some of her items behind with the hope of later retrieving them. Thereafter, she said, somebody broke in. “The Tasmanian devil spun through is what it looks like,” she said, referring to the Warner Brothers cartoon character who spins, leaving wreckage in his aftermath.

Elsewhere, abandoned belongings are piled outside on some lots, covered in white by Sunday’s snowfall. “As people move their trailers out or they were evicted, this is what was left,” Williams said.

Meantime, the clocks toward the deadline Lesley’s residents face. “No other incentives will be offered. If you do not take advantage of this offer then you will have to move out by May 31, 2023, without financial help from ownership,” the letter from Lesley’s reads.

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