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Plattsburgh city councilors hear concerns about conditions at mobile home park

Pat Bradley/WAMC
New mobile homes at Underwood Estates following 2018 flooding (file)

The Plattsburgh Common Council met Thursday to review a number of routine budget transfers. City leaders also heard from residents of a mobile home park concerned about deteriorating and unhealthy conditions.

In early January 2018 all of the residents of the Underwood Estates mobile home park in Plattsburgh were evacuated after an ice jam on the Saranac River breached a berm protecting the residences. A few weeks later then-Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the damage and announced relief funds to the city and affected homeowners.

During Thursday’s Common Council meeting, current residents told city leaders that instead of improved conditions, there has been minimal subsequent maintenance resulting in a number of safety hazards.

Smith Street resident Denise Nephew distributed a letter from a resident of the mobile home park that outlined some of the problems.

“There’s some empty lots there with water and sewer lines exposed. No street lights on half of Sandlewood Way and Casprini Way. Lot number 19 main power line from main box to outdoor power box has power line in a PVC pipe, unburied.”

Underwood resident Darrick Taylor says he has lived in the park for over a decade and problems escalated rather than improved after the state aid.

“From the time that the new homes moved in we’ve documented the whole way. You know I had wires just coming up out of my yard. The yards are horrible. There’s a lot of hazards.”

Joanne Eagle noted that state aid provisions leave many residents with few options.

“Nothing’s being done in the park. Nothing’s being fixed and we have to live there for ten years. But why?”

Ward 2 Democrat Mike Kelly referred to a memo from the city’s lawyer outlining the Clinton County Health Department and the Plattsburgh Building Inspector’s authority and role in investigating such complaints and offered advice to the Underwood Estates residents.

“The BI’s office operates under a complaint procedure whereby every complaint they receive must be investigated. The BI’s office works with the CCHD as complaints are received. And you can use both of those offices to help you out.”

Democratic Mayor Chris Rosenquest interjected:

“The building inspector does take anonymous complaints.”

During votes on approvals for budget transfers, Councilor Kelly questioned why the city was authorizing an $18,500 payment for a settlement claim.

“A contractor engaged by the state created this condition that caused the person to be injured. I wonder why the state of New York and that contractor wouldn’t be held liable in this case and not the city of Plattsburgh?”

City Attorney Dean Schneller explained that the city’s insurance carrier accepted the settlement.

“Based on the terms of our insurance policy this council doesn’t have discretion to either approve or disapprove that decision by the insurance carrier. This resolution is just a budget transfer to move the money around within the city. It isn’t to agree to the settlement. Basically that’s been forced upon us based on a decision of this carrier.”

Also during the meeting, Rosenquest issued a proclamation declaring November 27th Small Business Saturday in the city. Rosenquest noted he too is a small business owner and says supporting local business remains critical in the wake of the pandemic.

“And I urge the residents of our community and communities across the country to support small businesses and merchants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.”

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