AP NEWS

Sister park to Cherry Lane Estates has water woes

March 28, 2019

Many residents of the Roof Garden Acres trailer court in Somerset Township have gone more than a week with low water pressure — or no water at all — after having their rent raised by $50.

Residents said the water problem is the result of park maintenance breaking a line along David Lane on March 18. The mobile home park along Stoystown Road is owned by High Top LLC and Thomas Mongold, owner of Divinity Investments and nearby Cherry Lane Estates.

Vicki Kozuch posted videos on Facebook Tuesday of water trickling out of her faucets.

“The water pressure has been a little bit better, (but) last night I couldn’t turn the shower on,” she said. “It’s never been this bad. Never ever.”

Workers from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing said they hoped to have the leak fixed by the end of the day Wednesday, but they added that there was another water leak further down the line.

Park managers distributed a letter to residents saying the water would be shut off Monday, stating they were “updating the water lines along David Lane.” The names of the new park managers were not immediately available. The letter also states the management team met with Mongold in Chambersburg about park conditions.

“For the few of you that have texted and/or called Tom, that will not accomplish anything,” the letter states. “He is well aware of the things going on here and also of the state that the park is in due to lack of maintenance/upkeep/management.”

Mongold could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to documents obtained from the Somerset Township Municipal Authority via a Right-to-Know request, High Top owed $239,340.13 to the authority at the beginning of March. The authority has a $180,157.29 lien against High Top for unpaid bills at the mobile home park from April 2015 to July 2018.

High Top raised residents’ rent fees to $350 in October, a $50 increase. The company said the increase was needed for repairs.

“Due to the increasing repairs/maintenance required at the park, especially the lack of concern by Residents to fix/repair their water leaks, broken meters, running toilets, etc., High Top has no other alternative but to increase lot rent,” a 2018 letter from High Top to the residents states.

Documents show that High Top has been making payments ranging from $1,560.21 to $8,000 to the authority to pay its bills since the rent increase. Authority officials said High Top has been making minimal payments since leaks started on the property almost two years ago.

Divinity Investments has not cleaned up the fire-damaged trailers at Cherry Lane Estates in Somerset Borough. Somerset County Judge Scott Bittner declared the park a public nuisance in December, and ordered Divinity Investments to pay the borough $300,000 in past-due water bills and to clean up fire-damaged and dilapidated trailers within 90 days. The water bills have not been paid.

Borough solicitor James Cascio said that despite Divinity missing the deadline to clean up the trailers, a special injunction prohibiting the owner from selling the park without court approval is still in place.

“We’re working on a couple of different options,” he said. “We’re mindful of the dislocation this would be for the people who are living there, and trying to come up with solutions that will protect the borough’s interest and not disrupt the people living there.”

Cherry Lane has been the site of 13 arsons and two attempted arsons since early May. Police also believe fires set on Sept. 18, 2016, and July 5, 2017, both at 122 Gary Lane, were set by the same individual, who remains at large.

See copies of letters to residents and Kozuch’s videos at www.dailyamerican.com.