Residents of Spencer, IA mobile home park say they’ll stay despite city turning off its power for code violations

Residents at the Spencer Trailer Court prepare for a movie night, even though power has been...
Residents at the Spencer Trailer Court prepare for a movie night, even though power has been turned off in the complex.(KTIV)
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:38 PM CDT
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SPENCER, Iowa (KTIV) - The city has shut off the power at the Spencer Trailer Court, leaving residents to rely on generators if they want to stay.

The city is facilitating a move for those who’d like to leave. One of the residents of the mobile home park says some 28 people are still living in the complex without power.

City leaders say everyone left in the complex has been offered alternative arrangements, but that residents are choosing to stay.

“And I think that in the best interest of the people who reside there right now, they’re in their best interest. It is to find alternate housing. In the meantime, for the owner of the trailer park, I think in in the best interest of him is to rectify the situation and bring the park back up to code,” said Mayor Steve Bomgaars.

Margaret George has become one of the de-facto leaders in the trailer court. She says residents don’t want to leave, and that progress has been made on some of the cleanups. And she believes the area is improved enough to keep the lights on.

“And then, you know, I mean, there’s great people out there, they’re trying, but there’s still the economy’s not there. No housing for people here. And we’re not about to leave our homes,” said George.

Kala Cheevers is another resident who doesn’t want to leave. She says the city never asked her if she felt unsafe, and that some people don’t have a long-term plan, despite the city’s efforts.

“The entire time that I’ve lived out here, I have never once felt endangered. I’ve never once felt that my kids are in danger. Yeah, the one line, the one line did need to be fixed because it was hanging too low. But that was a one-time thing. That’s the only time it’s ever happened out here that I’m aware of,” said Cheevers.

Mayor Bomgaars says the complex failed a key electrical inspection on Monday. In a deal brokered between the city council and Trailer Court residents, the complex had to pass that inspection to keep the lights on. Instead of passing, Bomgaars says several dangerous electrical violations remain, in addition to other violations.

“And our city inspectors went in on Monday and still found several violations of the code. And we couldn’t put them in a hazardous situation out there with those kinds of violations,” said Bomgaars.

The Spencer mayor told KTIV News 4 that the city has no plans to condemn the complex at this time, and that power could be restored if the electrical code violations are addressed.

Bill Caskey, the owner of the mobile home park, wasn’t available for an on-camera interview. But he has filed a lawsuit in state court asking a judge to require the city to turn the power back on. We reached out to the city of Spencer for a response about the lawsuit, but as of Thursday afternoon, we have not heard back.

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