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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Evicted Trailer Park Residents Lament the Loss of Their Homes

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
JERSEY SHORE, Pa. -- On hot days, twins Amanda and Chevelle Eck splashed in the Susquehanna River behind their trailer in the Riverdale Mobile Home Park. 
Anytime their mother, Deb, worked late at her discount-store job, neighbors would meet the girls at the school bus stop and treat them to popsicles. 
In less than five months, that community has disappeared as residents were evicted from the park, forcing some to surrender their mobile homes. 
“Basically, part of my family has been ripped away,” Eck said in early June. “And I’m not giving up my home, too.... I bought that thing with sweat and I earned every damn penny I’ve put into that place. I just don’t happen to own the ground it sits on.” 
Deb Eck and her 10-year-old twins left Riverdale on July 7, towing their trailer to another mobile-home park. 
In late February, Aqua America and Penn Virginia Resource Partners became the owners of the 12 acres Riverdale sits on. The partnership will use the parcel in a $50 million plan to build a water-pumping station and 36-mile pipeline with the capacity to carry millions of gallons of water daily from the Susquehanna to natural gas wells. 
This small park of 32 trailers, home to an oft-ignored and marginalized population, has become yet another flash point in the national debate over the impact of natural gas drilling and the industry’s methods. 
Some say it is the first example of outright evictions because of Marcellus Shale operations in the drilling hotbed of Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.

No one asked 
The Riverdale trailer park provided affordable homes to a cluster of working-poor families and the elderly of Jersey Shore, a borough of 4,300 people between Lock Haven and Williamsport. 
Most residents owned their mobile homes and paid $200 a month to lease the land.
They learned of the project that would eviscerate their community when a story ran in the local newspaper in February. 
The majority had neither the desire nor the means to leave. No one bothered to ask them, they said. 
The Lycoming County Planning Commission approved site plans to build a pump station on the Riverdale land on Feb. 16. 
The park land owners, Richard and Joanne Leonard, sold it to the partnership for $550,000 on Feb. 23, according to Lycoming County assessment records. The land was last valued by the county assessment office at $439,890. 
The trailer-park’s manager recently waved off a reporter asking for comment. 
Shortly after the land sale, residents received eviction notices.
Read the rest of the article here.

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