WESTFIELD – Residents of both the Heritage Park and Arbor mobile home parks attended a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the fate of their parks.
Representatives from the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) met with the residents of the two mobile home parks after they informed them that the landowner of their mobile home parks, James Buratti of LME LLC, has signed an agreement to sell both parks. The sale agreement also includes selling the Lincoln Mobile Home Estates, located in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Providing technical assistance and financing to residents of manufactured home parks in Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, and Rhode Island, CDI told the people in attendance that they would be able to allow the residents to buy their own mobile home park in order to avoid both of the parks being sold.
The initiative that allows CDI to do this is called the NEROC (New England Resident Owned Communities) Program. The program serves more than 45 mobile home park communities ranging from nine to 430 homes.
According to Andrew Danforth, Director of the NEROC Program for CDI, all three mobile home parks would enter into a cooperative. Each homeowner would have to pay $100 up front in order to be in the cooperative. From there, each mobile home would have a monthly rent they would have to pay, on a 30-year plan to pay the loan.
Currently, residents of Heritage pay $320 a month, Arbor pays $335 per month, and Lincoln pays over $400 monthly. However, Danforth noted that if the cooperative went through, CDI would go over each mobile home parks finances and expenses in order to come up with a figure that homeowners would have to pay monthly.
In order for people that live in all three mobile home parks to enter into this cooperative, 51% of the people living in each of the mobile home parks would have to agree to join the co-op with CDI. At this time, Heritage has 78 home sites, while Arbors has 58, and Lincoln has 63.
Lincoln Mobile Home Estates has already received 51% approval from their residents and are entering into the cooperative.
“We’re going to give you a shot if you want to do it,” Danforth told the crowd.
Danforth also mentioned that Heritage, Arbor, and Lincoln would all have their own separate purchase prices for the homeowners.
George Markiell, a member of CDI and present at the meeting, noted that of the 41 communities they’ve done this co-op with in the last eight years, none have ever failed under the cooperative plan.
“We do this because we don’t want one to fail,” said Markiell.
If the co-op moved forward, the individuals living in the mobile home parks would form a board of directors, which would make the decisions of the property that they own. They would also have the opportunity to form up to five committees, where they would make decisions specifically towards certain issues.
The employees of CDI pointed out that they would hire professional property managers for the residents to work with.
Leo Matos lives in the Arbors and doesn’t like the current situation with the landlord.
“I’m going to go with the next step and see how it’s going,” said Matos. “We would have somebody to talk to, right now we don’t.”
Having lived in Heritage for 25 years, Tim Lafreniere, isn’t exactly sure what he’ll be getting into if he agrees to be in the co-op, but is willing to give it a chance.
“I think if this works, like they say it works, you’re basically living with the people who made the decision for the park,” said Lafreniere.
CDI is now looking to hold another meeting next week with the residents of Heritage and the Arbors. In the meantime, some residents will be knocking on the doors of their neighbors and attempting to convince them to get on board with the co-op.