By Sara Baldwin
When help from the town and their landlord seemed unlikely, residents of the Zionsville Mobile Home Park at 9111 East CR 600 South decided to take matters into their own hands by hosting a community cleanup day on May 12.
“It may not be our place to keep this park up, but we live here and we take pride in our community. Sometimes you have to do things for yourself,” said Benny Louden, who organized the cleanup day along with Mary Ann Shepherd, a resident since 2004.
Louden, a park resident since 2006, regularly mows many of the lawns in the park. During the cleanup event, he organized landscaping and power washed several of the abandoned trailers.
Zionsville Mobile Home Park owner Laura Lei has faced legal action in the past few years regarding a failed septic system and other issues. In January 2017, Boone Circuit Court Judge Justin Hunter ruled that more than a dozen tenants must move out of the park after a visit from Boone County Health Dept. deemed parts of the park unlivable because of a failing septic system.
Many of the abandoned properties have since become overgrown. Residents of the park are concerned that if they don’t take matters into their own hands and clean the place up, they will be forced to relocate.
“This place has not been taken care of,” said Brian Stocker, a resident of the park since 2008. “We just do it ourselves, unless it’s a water issue.”
Shepherd, Louden, Stocker and others said they wish Lei would take action and restore the park to its full occupancy.
“We don’t want to sit on our decks looking at abandoned homes,” Shepherd said.
When reached by phone, Lei said she has done her share to try to get the park in working condition and cleaned up the sewage-contaminated site as she was ordered by the court. Lei said she has paid the fees and is waiting on the city to repair the septic issue so that her license to operate, which she lost in 2015, can be renewed. This is now in the hands of the town, Lei said.
“I do not want the park to close,” Lei said. “People should not have to lose their homes.”
Louden says many people in the community have said the same to him.
“We are holding out, trying to save this park,” Louden said. “Now businesses are on board. People are telling us that they don’t want this park to close and they are on our side. The mayor has assured us that he has no plans to close the park.”
Amanda Vela, a spokeswoman for the Town of Zionsville, said the town sent feedback on the plans to the mobile home engineer and is awaiting resubmitted plans with corrections and payment of a fee for the review.
Businesses across Zionsville, Westfield, Lebanon and Indianapolis have donated to the cause.
Kroger, Home Depot, Lowes, Akard True Value Hardware, Midwest Estate Buyers, El Rodeo and many others have donated money, food, water and tools.
“There’s nothing wrong with having nice homes in Zionsville,” Louden said, “but there’s nothing wrong with having a mobile home park, either.”
Full list of businesses and people who donated money or supplies for the cleanup day:
Kroger, Home Depot, Tractor Supply, Lowes, Ray’s Trash Service, Akard True Value Hardware, Midwest Estate Buyers, El Rodeo Earth & Turf, Fanimation Lighting, Howard’s Lawn & Garden, Thomas Landscape & Design, The UPS Store, Jones Greenhouse, Positively Canine, NewPro Containers, Bill & Karen Bell, Robert & Pam Gilmore, Scott & Jill Herring, Gregory Keesee.