[Vision2020] Anger the prevailing sentiment among the park's remaining residents

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Fri May 25 04:34:45 PDT 2018

Courtesy of today’s (May 25, 2018) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.


Anger the prevailing sentiment among the park's remaining residents
Syringa Mobile Home Park is closing June 5; some residents still trying to determine their future

Time and options are dwindling for the few remaining residents of the Syringa Mobile Home Park.

The park - occupied by at least 97 mobile homes at its peak - is scheduled to close June 5, leaving inhabitants less than two weeks to pack up their lives before they become trespassers.

At the park, some have stripped their trailers of the metal siding to sell for scrap or dismantled their porches to build decks at their future homes. Others left their trailers, other belongings and trash as a parting gift for the park's owner, Magar E. Magar.

Animals roam the weeds and abandoned trailers after being left to fend for themselves by their owners.

Many of the remaining residents do not know where they will live when the park they call home closes next month.

Still, it was business as usual Monday morning at the park, where residents repaired their cars, went to work and walked their dogs on the pathways crowded by overgrown grass. Some stuffed boxes into car trunks to be moved. Others had already left whole trailers behind.

'Seems like a good thing to happen'

Syringa has become something of an eyesore over the years, resident Kyle Bangeman said Monday. Yards are overgrown with grass and weeds; the pavement is cracking; drugs have become a problem among some of the residents. The park has gained a bad reputation.

That is why, for Bangeman, the park's closure, while somewhat upsetting, "seems like a good thing to happen."

Bangeman, a gas station worker, has lived in a mobile home at Syringa with his mother on and off for the past 10 years.

Monday morning, surrounded by scattered tools, feral cats and the abandoned mobile homes of neighbors who had already made their way out, Bangeman chatted outside with a neighbor, while his mother, who he said had just worked the graveyard shift the night before, slept in.

While the park has been building a bad reputation for some time, Bangeman said that wasn't always the case.

"(The park) was kind of cool, because there was a lot of kids my age at one point," he said, "but as I got older, it seems like there are less and less people my age."

Bangeman said Syringa's downfall began after a resident who typically handled maintenance around the park died. Since then, no one has kept up the park.

Its closure stirs mixed feelings for Bangeman. For his mother, it is upsetting, he said.

"She wanted to burn the trailer down," Bangeman said. "She didn't want to leave it. She would rather burn it down than let somebody auction it off."

The chars of a burnt down trailer would not look entirely out of place these days at Syringa, where several trailer's roofs are caved in and a large chunk of homes have become uninhabitable, as evidenced by red tags posted on their fronts. Other trailers have had the metal siding stripped for profit and bear only a wooden frame.

Some residents have spray-painted their homes to voice their grievances and sink their teeth into Syringa owner Magar, who filed for bankruptcy last year before announcing the park would close in May. That closing date was extended to June to allow residents time to move.

"C U IN HELL Magar," was spray-painted in red running paint on the home of Cindra Stark and her boyfriend, Robert Overturf.

"I said (to Robert) just tell them how you feel. Just go for it, let it all out," Stark said.

The two have lived in the mobile home for 10 years, Stark said. Once only colorful on the inside - walls of red, green, pink and black painted by Stark throughout the home - the trailer is now tagged with colorful messages directed at Magar on the outside, the yard sprinkled with cardboard posters hurling accusations at the owner.

"We worked hard for our homes," one sign read. "They gave us little money and tell us to walk away or we will be arrested. WTF?"

Earlier this year, Latah County 2nd District Court Judge John R. Stegner ordered Magar to pay a total of $282,000 to current and former park residents for enduring 93 days without potable water from December 2013 to March 2014 as well as other damages residents sustained in recent years.

Stark said she and Overturf received $2,100 in the settlement. Their mobile home, she said, cost $4,000.

Stark expressed her concern for others being forced to move from the park and anger about the time of the year the notice was sent out. She said moving in the winter and spring is difficult because winter snow makes the ground too soft and wet to move a trailer.

"Do they even think about the people they are leaving homeless?" Stark asked. "They are taking their homes and saying, 'Leave.' "

Stark and Overturf plan on staying at Syringa until June 5. The couple then has a small Winnebago they plan on moving into, and they will store the remainder of their belongings in a storage unit until they can find a new place to call home.

Other residents have made arrangements to live with friends as they figure out their long-term plans.

Resident James Ware has called Syringa his home for the past 18 years. He said he has moved around most of his life, but he has stayed at Syringa longer than any other place he has lived.

"I mean, this little area here was so nice when we moved in," Ware said. "College couple with matching-aged children and a retired couple with a cul-de-sac all to ourselves. Then it went to hell in a hurry."

Ware, covered in transmission fluid while working on his Chevy truck Monday, said fixing the pickup is a big step toward getting out the door and on with his life away from Syringa.

Ware said he depends on his tools to make a living.

"Quite honestly, I expect to be in a place where I won't have my tools, and that's how I get things," Ware said. "I can afford broken stuff, and my skill set is I can fix damn near anything that's within reason, and I'm not going to have any of that."

Ware was in good spirits discussing the future of his home, but he said he will miss the little things.

"It's funny the things you see yourself missing," Ware said.

He said he plans to move to a property owned by some of his friends in Montana. He is not planning on moving his trailer, as many places don't accept mobile homes older than 20 years.

'Hope to be out by deadline'

Five-year Syringa resident Scott Morrison does not know when he will move out of the park, but he hopes it is by the June 5 deadline.

Morrison, a 49-year-old who lives with his wife, a friend, three small dogs and five cats, said he still has a lot of prep work to complete before his single-wide 1974 mobile home can be transported to Appaloosa Court, a mobile home park on Old Pullman Road west of Moscow.

The moving process has not been easy for Morrison. He said he needs others to help pack his belongings since he broke his back and had surgery two years ago.

Morrison said moving his home will be the most expensive part of the move, costing him $3,500. He said a GoFundMe account has been set up to help him with moving expenses.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Morrison had raised $575 of his $4,500 goal.

Morrison said he needs to remove all of his belongings from his mobile home and take off the structure's skirting, ramp and porch before it can be moved. An electrician needs to disconnect the home's wiring before it can be transported as well, Morrison said.

"There's a large process that the Magars have caused me to have to go through," he said.

Morrison said his wife of 13 years, Annamarie, his roommate, and his animals are all moving to Appaloosa Court with him.

Morrison, a recent Lewis-Clark State College graduate, said he moved to the park in October 2013, shortly before residents went 93 days without potable water.

"We don't want it to go," Morrison said of the park. "We don't. I mean, Syringa's not that bad a place. It's just as bad as any other place that's got poverty."

Morrison said he discovered the park was expected to close in December - an announcement that blindsided him.

He said he is most upset that Shelley Magar, who took control of the park from her father Magar E. Magar, told Morrison she planned to fix the park's infrastructure issues.

"And then all of a sudden, bam, you get hit out of the blue," Morrison said.

He feels she deceived residents into believing the park was going to remain open.

As of today, residents like Morrison, Ware, Bangeman, Stark and Overturf, have just 12 days to vacate the property.


Please help our neighbors . . .

Syringa Emergency Relocation Fund

Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares"
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

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