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City of McPherson says mobile home residents must go

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 10:50 PM CDT
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MCPHERSON, Kan. (KWCH) - The City of McPherson filed a petition to evict residents living in a mobile home park after they say the owner failed to bring it into compliance, or even obtain a license to operate the park. Now the people who live there tell Factfinder 12 they have one week to get out of their homes but nowhere to go.

Driving along a section of Kansas Avenue in McPherson, you might notice a sign. It’s handmade, not much craftsmanship involved, but it makes its point known. It contains an expletive aimed at the City of McPherson and certainly conveys the idea that the people living in the mobile home park located behind the sign aren’t happy with something the city is doing.

One of those people asked Factfinder 12 not to identify him, but he was more than happy to talk about the city’s plan to move him off the property where he lives.

“City of McPherson come in with like six cop cars,” the man said. “They came in like a swat team. They came knocking door to door, waking up all the residents up, serving eviction papers.”

Another man living at the mobile home park, located at 707 W. Kansas Ave., says he’s been there for close to 20 years. Gary Quint tells Factfinder Investigator Alex Flippin he purchased the trailer and everything in it, but rents the lot. A common thing for residents living in mobile home parks. He says his plan was to live there and to die there, and he says neither of those plans are going to work out.

“They’re expecting me to get out. Lock, stock and barrel,” Quint said.

The “they” in question is the City of McPherson. The reason they are telling everyone living at this mobile home park to get out: because the park’s owner, Wichita realtor Derek Walden, hasn’t held the license required to operate the park since December of 2016.

“For some whatever reason. He did not renew his permit you have to have an annual permit to run a trailer park, he wasn’t doing that,” Quint said. “I have no understanding of why.”

That isn’t the only reason for the city’s actions however. Court documents provided to Factfinder 12 show Derek Walden and some residents were warned or cited for nuisance and code violations no less than seven times since 2018. Things like excessive trash, inoperable vehicles and debris that needed to be removed. The city also forbid Walden from taking on new tenants or collecting rent, though he continued to do both anyway.

Those same documents say Walden and the occupants failed and refused to take care of violations. Except some, like Gary Quint, who did as he was asked.

“I try to,” he explained. “I have been. I’ve been keeping my stuff outdoors stuff to a minimum. I’ve been helping clean in spite of what says the paperwork, ‘nobody will lift the finger and do anything.’”

Disabled and using a cane to get around... not always efficiently he jokes... Gary works to keep his area well maintained. Still, the City of McPherson says he has to go... but he says he has no place to go.

"I’ve got so many things, books, clothes. Appliance, tools, you wouldn’t believe. I’ve got ain’t nowhere to put that I ain’t got nowhere to take it.

And no way to get there. Quint’s only vehicle is a three wheeled trick with a basket. When asked if he’s begun making plans to move, he says there are no plans to be made. He doesn’t have the money nor the ability to move.

“No idea,” he said. “Probably let them take me away.”

Attorneys for the city met with Factfinder 12 to provide documents but said they would not at any time have time to do an on camera interview. As for the owner of the property, Derek Walden, he said he’d think about doing an interview, but never returned or answered calls to schedule one. In a letter to the City of McPherson, he wrote:

“My intention is to not contest the action taken by the City of McPherson. I take full responsibility...The purchase of the park was the result of the actions of a young, proud and naïve man. And I apologise (sic) my inattentiveness has forced the city’s hand.”

Walden hopes to sell the property for $97,000. Residents like quint just hope.

“You’ve got till the 25th and you must get out, or the sheriff may come and put you put you out on the streets, put you in in jail, basically putting you in prison for being poor,” Quint said.

Gary quint paid for his lot rental through the end of the year. He says his landlord, Derek Walden, told him he’d refund him that money, but even that, he says, won’t get him very far.

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