Article Courtesy of The Orlando
By Stephen Hudak and Steven
Published April 11, 2017
More than 50 families living at Tymber Skan on the Lake could soon be scrambling
for new housing because residents of the crumbling complex will be notified
Monday that water-provider OUC plans to turn off the spigot next month for
The water woes are the latest trouble for residents of the struggling
neighborhood in south Orange County.
The condominium community, plagued by crime, foreclosures and a suspicious fire
that destroyed eight units in February, owes an estimated $21,000 in unpaid
bills and late fees to the Orlando Utilities Commission.
Emiley Hayes, 22, mother of a 5-month-old girl and a son who turns 2 in June,
said she will be forced to leave her mother’s unit if the water is shut off.
“I can’t bathe my kids,” she said. “I can’t warm my babies’ bottles. We’d have
to go someplace else.”
But OUC has run out of patience with the condo-owners association, which it says
has not kept up with a repayment plan.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Tim Trudell, spokesman for the utility
that provides the complex with water and power. “It’s been a problem for a long,
OUC will give the association until May 8 to pay up or lose water, a timeline
designed to give families a chance to line up another place to live.
Although the condos are individually owned, water bills are paid by the
Built in 1972 in Holden Heights, the complex was once home to working-class
families, but now half of the original 49 buildings have been torn down or
condemned as “unfit for human occupancy” by the Orange County division of code
Remaining residents are a mix of renters and owners who say they can’t afford to
move from the neighborhood off South Texas Avenue, about two miles from The Mall
Most have children, many of whom dodge potholes and scattered shards of glass
while riding bikes on the blighted complex’s parking areas.
Orange County Commissioner Victoria Siplin, whose district includes Tymber Skan,
wants the board to discuss at its meeting Tuesday the next steps for the
community, its residents and neighbors.
“There are residents and property owners on both sides,” Siplin said. “OK, once
the lights are off, once the water’s shut off, how are we going to make sure the
property doesn’t become a nuisance to the community.”
The county’s Family Services division, alerted earlier this week about OUC’s
plan to turn off the water, is prepared to help residents find replacement
housing by offering referrals and financial aid for those who qualify,
spokeswoman Doreen Overstreet said.
Finding new homes won’t be easy.
“We’re doing everything we can to pay all of our bills,” said Cynthia Claytor,
63, who has lived at Tymber Skan for five years with an autistic adult son.
Though hopeful an agreement can be worked out with the utility, she said she
worries about her neighbors.
“For some, there’s no other place for them to go,” Claytor said. “They’re poor
people. They can’t afford a whole heck of a lot.’’
In February, fire tore through an eight-unit vacant building, reducing it to
charred rumble which has not yet been cleaned up. No one was injured in the
County officials say firefighters have been called to the complex 42 times since
2012 for reported fires. Many were investigated as arson.
Some residents suspect squatters who trespassed in condemned units by removing
plywood sheets boards that shuttered doorways and windows set fires to cook or
stay warm on cold nights. The county spent $1 million last year to tear down
Mounds of garbage are heaped on empty lots throughout the community. Some piles
include broken appliances, soggy couches and other discarded furnishings. Neatly
maintained units are side-by-side with shuttered ones.
But the homeowner group now facing possible loss of water hopes to stave off
disconnection, slated for May 8, said Malinda McIntosh, the association’s
“We’re in the process of getting a payment together,” McIntosh said. “But
obviously we need help.”