Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published June 7, 2005
BEACH · In all of his 85 years, World War II veteran Ray Blanchette has faced
many fears, including his own mortality as war buddies perished beside him in
battle. Now Blanchette is facing another fear -- his impending eviction.
For more than seven weeks, Blanchette and his neighbors have worried they
might be forced out of their homes at Tidewater Estates.
On April 15, residents received word from owner David Newmark that a developer
had made an unsolicited offer to buy the 124-unit park. Though not required to
do so by law, Newmark offered to give the residents a chance to buy the park.
They had 45 days to come up with $11 million.
During the following few weeks, 50 residents formed a co-op to buy the park,
but late last week the deal fell through when Newmark, of Boca Raton, refused
to sign the contract, Blanchette said.
Newmark, who declined comment Monday, would not tell residents why he was
walking away from the deal, said Blanchette, president of the Tidewater
Residents have not yet received eviction notices, but by law must be given six
months to move from the mobile home park, which lies east of Military Trail
and south of the Hillsboro Canal, giving it waterfront access.
Blanchette, who paid $27,000 for his mobile home in 1975, said he was not
about to leave. "I'm not moving, I can tell you that. I'll sue them,
Homeowners' associations have the legal right of first refusal when an owner
puts a park up for sale, but not when the offer to buy is unsolicited, said
Don Hazelton, president of the Federation of Manufactured Home Owners of
Florida in Largo.
Residents don't know who has offered to buy the park.
"These folks are going to be homeless," said Marty Pozgay, president
of Florida Community Services Group, which was working with residents to help
them buy the park. "They are not going to be able to move their
State subsidies would pay residents up to $6,000 to move the homes. But many
are too old to be moved and will have to be left behind, Pozgay said.
Residents who abandon their homes would receive $2,750.
Dozens of mobile home parks have closed in the past decade, swallowed by
condos and townhouses, Hazelton said. The rising value of land in the state is
driving the trend, he said.
"It's like the breakup of a family," Hazelton said of parks that
close. "Some people move into other mobile home parks. Some move into
apartments if they can afford it. Others move in with their kids."
Moving in with a relative is not an option for Blanchette, whose 58-year-old
daughter lives with him. On Monday, Blanchette fumed at home.
"I'm mad as a hornet," he said. "This is not freedom. This is
happening because of greed."