More than 300 residents of a Long Island trailer park are going to court after being told their homes will be razed and replaced with a new, more expensive rental development.
"This is my home," said Edward Carmen, who has lived in his trailer at Frontier Park in North Amityville for a decade. "I won't go down without a fight."
Carmen, who lost his leg to diabetes last year, received a letter last February from the property's owner saying that after 50 years, Frontier Park would be closing. Hundreds of the mostly elderly or disabled residents got the same notice.
"Some read that letter and cried," said trailer owner Linda Kavun, who is leading the fight to stop the closing of the park.
At the time, the trailer park owner was facing a mountain of county and town fines for health and safety violations, according to a town of Babylon spokesman.
Rather than pay the fines and upgrade the property, Frontier Park's owner cut a deal with a developer. That deal calls for the construction of 500 rental units and retail space on the trailer park's 21 acres.
The trailer owners hired an attorney and have filed two lawsuits against the town and its zoning board to stop the development. A third suit is planned against the developer.
"They thought we were trailer trash," one trailer owner said. "But they were wrong, dead wrong."
According to the residents' lawyer, William Rapp, the property's owner violated state and county law by failing to give residents the opportunity to purchase the trailer park land before the developer.
Most residents in Frontier Park pay about $600 a month to keep their trailers there. The new developer wants to charge a minimum $1,400 a month for the cheapest apartment to be built here.
"If I have to go out of here, there's really no place I can go that's low-income like this," said Carmen.
A spokesperson for the developer, R Squared, refused comment.
In a statement, Babylon spokesman Tim Ruggeri said, "Babylon's main priority is ensuring the park's residents receive the compensation they deserve as well as adequate assistance in the transition... to new housing."
Residents have been offered $20,000 to move, Kavun said. But many feel that's not enough for their homes.
"I've lived here very happily," said retired nurse Mary Stratten, who has been a resident since 1996. "You really can't get a better deal, to be honest."
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