A brief loss of electric service and two months without garbage pickup has residents of Crestview Mobile Home Park on Rt. 58 looking for answers from ownership.
According to park manager Brian Ross, who also lives on the property, residents have not fallen behind on rent payments, which include the cost of utilities. Yet electric service through the Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative was cut off for approximately 10 hours on June 1.
On Monday, Republic Services removed a dumpster containing a large stockpile of trash. Overflow from that pickup left enough excess garbage strewn on the ground to form a new pile of bags once it was cleaned up.
“I spoke with a representative from Republic on Friday,” Ross said. “She told us they’d be coming out to retrieve the dumpster if the owner had not paid the bill by today. Sure enough, they kept their word and came to get it.”
Republic has floated the idea of installing individual trash receptacles outside each residence but nothing has been confirmed at this point.
Water service through the Rural Lorain County Water Authority is also in danger of being shut off. Ross said representatives told him the water will stay on at least through June 14.
Ross and other residents said they haven’t been able to contact property owner Sharon Ohly-Johannsen since April. She took over ownership in early 2016, according to an email Ross provided.
“Besides this email, any paperwork regarding her ownership is in a divorce decree between her and her ex-husband,” he said.
“She won’t answer her phone and she won’t answer the door at her house,” Ross added. “The Wellington police and sheriff’s department has been to her door and they get the same thing. The mobile home commission has been trying to get in touch with her since last Thursday, and still nothing. She’s here every two months to pick up rent, but besides that she’s been like this since taking over. Sometimes she’ll pick up the phone, others she’ll go months without contact.”
Ohly-Johannsen did not respond to repeated calls from the Enterprise for a comment.
Residents held a protest in front of her Wellington residence the day the electricity was shut off.
“We were told by police as long as we stayed on the sidewalk we were fine,” said Ross’ wife, Dina. “We’re thinking of going up and doing another one.”
The park is in Wellington Township, just north of the village limits. Township trustees have lobbied on behalf of the residents to the utility companies and have sent a letter to the owner notifying her she’s in violation of zoning resolutions.
“She’s in violation because business is not being taken care of down there,” said trustee Nancy Fisher. “There are a lot of people working on this. We’re not allowed to give legal advice or hand over money to a private entity to help with the back bills, but we can appeal to the utility companies.”
The overdue bills total approximately $900 for garbage and $6,000 for water. The electric bill tally has not been made available to residents, according to Ross.
“Each one is about three months overdue,” he said. “I’ve had to pick up garbage every day. It’s attracting a ton of groundhogs, raccoons, and stray cats. There’s people here with weakened immune systems too, and this is the last thing they need. I have a cancer patient here who starts chemo today or tomorrow. She has no immune system.”
Resident Gloria Pockock, who lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said her breathing apparatus shut off in the middle of treatment on June 1, forcing her to drive to Elyria to pick up her husband Alan so he could hook up a generator.
“I just thought, ‘What the hell?’ Who would’ve thought the power would go off when all of our bills are paid?” she said. “We’ve never gotten behind on rent in five years living here. I had to drive over an hour to pick up Alan. I was scared of getting behind the wheel because of how I felt and the fear of hurting another driver. It’s what I had to do, though. I had to breathe.”
“Brian, myself, and many residents do a lot out of our own pockets to improve the park,” Alan said. “But your own money can only go so far. This kind of stuff is way beyond our reach.”
Gloria said even if new measures are put in place to let residents pay utilities separately from their rent, it will end up being more costly than the setup they were promised when they moved in.
“We’re on a fixed income and live here because it fits into that,” she said. “What’s our money going toward? This is just nuts.”
Trisha McQuate lives on the property with her three children.
“There’s animals all over the place because of the trash,” she said. “That’s made even worse because of how close we are to the woods. You never know what’s going to show up. We’ve seen coyotes a few times. We can’t let anything sit outside. There’s a rotten smell all the time. When the electricity went off, we lost every piece of food we had in the fridge.”
The residents are in the process of seeking legal counsel and have set up a GoFundMe page to help with paying the bills.
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/crestview-emergency-utilities-fund.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.