Pownal park residents, managers differ strongly on problems | Local News

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POWNAL — Residents and managers of the Pownal Estates Mobile Home Park offered diametrically opposed descriptions Monday of several longstanding problems, involving the water system, park roads and mail delivery.

Meanwhile, the central problem of providing clean drinking water to residents remained unresolved Monday, residents said, despite work done last week on the 56-unit park’s well water system.

“We have water, but it is not coming out very fast, and we have to boil it,” resident Deborah Tifft said.

She said park management provided a pack of bottled water last week when announcing that the water pump had been replaced and that a boil water order was in effect.

According to a notice to residents, the boil order will “remain in effect until the water system maintenance/repair is complete and the system is able to demonstrate that the quality and quantity of the drinking water meets state and federal drinking water standards.”

Shawn Mateo, who said he owns and rents 12 mobile homes in the park, echoed that assessment of current water pressure, saying, “Residents can’t shower; there isn’t enough pressure.”

Pownal officials could not be reached Monday on steps the town might be taking to resolve the drinking water problem.

‘UPGRADES THWARTED’

However, property managers with the company that runs Pownal Estates and other properties in several states, said an uncooperative and hostile response from many tenants to problems that pre-date the current ownership group has stymied most of the company’s efforts to make upgrades.

Diane Byr and Laurie Comerford, with Patriot Holdings, said it has been “very frustrating” dealing with some residents to effect changes in the park since Pownal Estates LLC purchased what was called Alta Gardens Mobile Home Park in September from former owner Mark Garrity.

“This park was highly neglected before we took over,” Byr said in a phone interview, adding that residents seem to believe major changes in the park “can happen overnight,” despite their longstanding nature.

Concerning the lack of safe drinking water, she said the company will provide additional bottled water while more work is done on the park water system.

Work is ongoing to improve water pressure to homes, she said, but in some cases the park is hampered by supply chain issues in acquiring new equipment quickly.

MAIL, ROADS

Two other problems have drawn consistent resident complaints — the lack of lockable mailboxes on the park property, as previously provided, and maintenance of the gravel park roads, which had numerous deep potholes last week.

Byr said Monday that the lockable park mailboxes are no longer safe to use “because the tenants destroyed them,” and it would be very expensive to replace them.

The park does plan instead to place new mailboxes at the park entrance, the women said, but obtaining necessary approvals from the post office has been slow and difficult.

They said the boxes should be installed this week, and the management company believes it will ultimately gain approval from the Postal Service, based on similar projects it has undertaken in other states.

Concerning the roads, the women said the roads have been graded twice since the new owners took over in the fall.

Mateo, who said he once acted as maintenance manager under Garrity’s ownership, said the former owner would have the roads graded six to eight times a year.

The pothole problem returns with every heavy rainstorm and will require regrading unless more permanent repairs are done, Mateo said.

WATER DISTRICT

Concerning the water problems, which have involved periodic loss of service in the past, the women said the new owners are looking into joining the Pownal Fire District No. 2 water system. It supplies properties in the south Pownal area, including the Green Mountain Mobile Home Park, next to Pownal Estates on Route 7.

The company is exploring the possibility of a grant to tie the Pownal Estates water lines into the Fire District system, which is fed by a well off Route 346, about a mile from the side-by-side parks.

Mark Smith, chairman of the Fire District board, said the Pownal Estates owners have yet to apply for such a connection. He said Alta Gardens has stayed with its own well-fed system since the district was formed during the 1990s.

“To this point they have not contacted us,” Smith said in an email Monday. “They would need to pay engineering cost. Equipment and connection costs.”

‘NOT FOR SALE’

Byr and Comerford also denied that Pownal Estates is for sale, despite a real estate ad apparently referring to the park appearing on the internet in July.

The women said the owners have discussed with real estate brokers the possible sale of several facilities as a package, but no sales have been approved. They speculated that a real estate firm might have posted the ad to create or gauge interest in the property.

Patriot Holdings is described as a real estate private equity group that invests in alternative commercial real estate assets, including, but not limited to manufactured home communities, self storage facilities  and small bay industrial parks.”

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