Clean up seen as safety issue
Shortly after being hired, Blue Earth’s city administrator quickly realized the need to continue working on an ongoing problem in the city: cleaning up properties that have become a public health hazard.
In the past year, Kathy Bailey estimates at least 100 complaints have been received at City Hall regarding property owners violating the city’s ‘public nuisance’ ordinance.
Letters have been sent out to those needing to clean up their properties, including the owners of the Hillcrest Mobile Home Park located on the east end of town.
“I saw this as more of a safety issue than trying to clean up an eyesore. Something had to happen, so I sent them a letter,” says Bailey.
The city administrator says the first-line of duty for ownersAndrew and Marjorie Johnson of Mankato was to secure any abandoned mobile homes.
Bailey says broken windows needed to be boarded up and doors fixed to prevent anyone from entering the trailers.
“I didn’t want children going into the trailers and getting hurt or have a place for harborage of animals,” says Bailey.
An orange ‘X’ and ‘No trespassing’ signs have been placed on several mobile homes scheduled to be torn down.
Tom Wilfahrt of the Minnesota Department of Health in Mankato says his agency is responsible for licensing and inspecting mobile parks in Faribault County.
Wilfahrt says he conducted an onsite inspection of the property and contacted the Johnsons by mail.
“I sent them a report and told them they had to clean it up. There was a lot of debris lying around,” he says.
The Johnsons have had several months to take care of the matter, Wilfahrt says.
He plans to make another visit at the end of April or early May.
“If nothing has been done, I’ll issue an order to clean it. I’ll give up to a month,” Wilfahrt adds.
The trailer court is located in Councilman Rick Scholtes’ ward and he says the owners have been working with officials to be in compliance with city ordinance.
“Because it’s private property we’re treating it like all others in town,” says Scholtes. “They (the Johnsons) want it cleaned up too.”
The Johnsons have yet to submit a ‘written plan’ of action, says Bailey. While no deadline has been given to complete the clean-up work, the city administrator says she would like to see everything finished by the end of June.
The city has taken a positive approach, says Bailey, in working with the Johnsons. She says the trailer court can provide much needed affordable housing to local residents.
“A lot of trailer parks seem to be disappearing, but there is a place and need for them. We just want to make sure they are safe and clean” she says. “The owners have a responsibility to keep it decent.”