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Plans to close Bob's Trailer Court leaves questions for residents amid county concerns

The owner of the Southeast Rochester trailer park says he's planning to construct apartments for low-income seniors. TSJ Parks LLC purchased the site for $1.3 million in 2021.

Bob's Trailer Court
Angela VanGundy, also known as Angela Glende, stands outside the mobile home where she has been staying on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at Bob's Trailer Court in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — A Southeast Rochester trailer park with a history of conflicts with the city and county is slated to close.

“It’s a tough situation, but we are trying to work within the law,” said Scott Kramer, whose Pennsylvania-based TSJ Parks LLC purchased Bob’s Trailer Court for $1.3 million in 2021.

He said his partners have plans to construct a 30-unit low-income, senior housing complex at the site, after an attempt to auction the property failed to receive acceptable bids.

“We thought the highest and best use of the property was redeveloping it,” he said.

Shortly after purchasing the trailer court at 1915 Marion Road SE, Kramer said the plan was to clean up the park when the city urged him to have recreational vehicles removed, which led to at least three eviction filings .

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One of those tenants, Angela VanGundy, who was using the last name Glende at the time, has struggled with securing housing since agreeing to leave in an effort that kept the threatened eviction off her record.

Unable to find a place to store her RV, VanGundy said she racked up $500 in violations when it was parked at an apartment complex where she had been living, which led to her needing to leave that apartment.

Rental issues

She returned to Bob’s Trailer Court and said she rented a trailer, only to find that the person posing as the site’s manager wasn’t in charge. As a result, she’s locked out of the trailer she thought she rented and is living with a friend at the park.

“Everyone was paying this guy,” she said of the person posing as the site manager, who provided her with keys to the trailer and mailbox.

Bob's Trailer Court
Angela VanGundy outside the mobile home where she has been staying on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at Bob's Trailer Court in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Kramer said several park tenants fell for the same alleged scheme, which has resulted in several occupants who are not paying rent to the proper management company. He said his attorney is considering whether to seek criminal charges in the case after the alleged fraudulent manager was evicted.

Still, he said, it leaves many residents without actual agreements to occupy trailers owned by the park.

“My position is that they are squatting, no matter what,” he said, unable to define how many people might have been duped by the management imposter.

He estimated 10 of the approximately 25 trailers on the site are occupied by squatters.

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VanGundy said notices to vacate the park were posted on all trailers, giving 10 days to leave, which expired Sept. 29.

“We thought it would be illegal,” she said, adding that no one had moved out by the deadline.

Brian Lipford, an attorney with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, said his agency was contacted by one tenant, but no formal eviction process was filed in court.

“If they are closing the park, there are statutory protections for those individuals who live there, because a lot of time (the mobile home) is their biggest asset,” he said.

Kramer said three of the mobile homes on the site are owned by their occupants, who rent space at the park.

County concerns

The reported 10-day notices followed a Sept. 12 letter from Olmsted County Senior Assistant Attorney Tom Canan, who cited public health concerns at the park, pointing to the lack of an on-site caretaker, the presence of squatters and a variety of maintenance concerns.

The letter acknowledges Kramer’s plan to close the lot and outlines a variety of state requirements related to closing the park, which requires a minimum of 12-month notice.

Bobs.JPG
Bob's Trailer Court is located at 1915 Marion Road SE in Rochester. Randy Petersen / Post Bulletin

Kramer, a former attorney who was disbarred in Pennsylvania in 2019, said he’s working with a local attorney to comply with legal requirements connected to the planned closure.

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“It’s a tough situation, but we are trying to work within the law,” he said, adding that a required fund to help with some relocations has been established and occupants will be notified how they can access support for any move.

At the same time, he said his attorney is working on a plan to evict residents who are not paying rent and don’t have a rental agreement, which he said has complicated the process.

“In this instance, the county is taking the position that you have to evict them, because they created a home there,” he said, noting other communities would force squatters to move without eviction action.

As of Monday morning, no recent eviction filings are listed among cases filed in the local court.

Next steps

Dave Dunn, Olmsted County’s housing director, said he believes Kramer’s stated long-term goal for the property is the best fit for the property, but also cited concerns about the process.

“I think, from our perspective, the decision of the owner to close the park makes sense,” he said. “It’s just the matter of how you do it, working with the tenants and following the law.”

Bob's Trailer Court
Angela VanGundy outside the mobile home where she has been staying on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at Bob's Trailer Court in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

The county’s Housing Stability Team has already made attempts to help some of the people living at the park, and Dunn said the social workers will continue efforts to identify potential housing needs as the process moves forward.

Lipford said Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services will also be watching how things unfold and could end up representing residents if cases end up in eviction court.

“If you have a landlord that is trying to circumvent the law, we are certainly going to be involved and try to do everything we can to enforce homeowners’ rights,” he said.

For now, Kramer maintains the legal process will play out as required and plans for redeveloping the site will continue in the background.

Olmsted County communications specialist Emma Diercks said the county is working with Rochester city staff to watch what is happening at the trailer park.

"Until Bob’s Trailer Park closes, the county and the city are continuing to monitor conditions at the site to ensure it is clean, maintained, and safe for its residents," she said.

Bob's Trailer Court
Angela VanGundy outside the mobile home where she has been staying on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at Bob's Trailer Court in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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