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Work in progress at mobile home park

Electrician will be there Friday, Monday

Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

ROCK FALLS – Progress is being made in addressing code violations that are putting the future of a local mobile home in jeopardy, the city’s building inspector said Tuesday.

Terry Helt, owner of Valley Properties Inc., formerly known as Easy Living Trailer Park, has been without a business license for the park since his expired May 1. He was notified by letter on that date that a new license would not be issued until a list of city and fire code violations at the park were corrected.

The most pressing issue was work that needed to be done on the park’s electrical system, said Mark Searing, city building inspector. That work has been scheduled for Friday and Monday, but could take more than 2 days to finish.

“The electrician contacted me, and he will be on-site Friday morning to do electrical work,” Searing said. “This is the biggest safety issue for the city, so we’re making progress.”

There is no way to kill the power to individual trailers, so all of the homes on the north side of the park will be without power while the electrician is working, Searing said.

The meter bases, which are owned by electricity customers, presented safety hazards. Some were rusted out, which lets in moisture and animals.

“The moisture can then get in, so they get corroded and eventually can cause a fire,” Searing said. “Animals also can get in and chew on the wires, and birds even make nests in there.”

Some of the meters also were closer to the trailers than the minimum 3 feet required by code. That also presented safety hazards for city workers.

“If you have to pull the meter to replace it or cut off service, there’s not enough room to maneuver while working,” Searing said.

Residents also received the letter sent to Helt, dated May 1, that said if corrections were not made in 7 days, Helt’s license would not be renewed and Valley Properties would have to cease operations.

Several residents of the 22-trailer park at 1507 W. Route 30 attended the May 7 meeting of the city’s Building Code Committee, where some said the licensing letter was the first they had heard of the list of violations that the city says Helt has known about for almost 2 years.

The licensing issue will be formally addressed at the May 22 meeting of the city’s Ordinance and Licensing Committee. Searing said he will look at some of the violations on the list Friday and do a formal inspection before the meeting.

Helt said most of the violations will be corrected before the licensing meeting.

“By the time they meet again, we plan to have every issue addressed except a few broken glass panes and maybe some small stuff,” Helt said. “All of the safety issues will be done, and we’re getting rid of a third of the sheds.”

Sheds had been built too close to the trailers, in violation of International Fire Code.

Helt believes the latest actions taken by the city have served as a wake-up call for some of the park’s residents. Some of the trailers are owned by Helt, and some by the residents. Some of the violations were of the public nuisance variety, such as trash piled up on lawns.

“When I first got the list of violations, I couldn’t get any cooperation to fix things,” Helt said. “I think the tenants were scared when they got the letter saying they weren’t renewing my license.”

The residents have now banded together to help him, Helt said.

“They even said they are going to get together every Sunday from now on and make sure the place gets cleaned up.”

What's next

The Valley Properties Inc. licensing issue will be discussed at a meeting of the Rock Falls City Council's Ordinance and Licensing Committee at 5:30 p.m. May 22, at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. 

The agendas will be posted at www.rockfalls61071.com and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

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