PATTON TOWNSHIP — Rain fell over many somber faces Monday afternoon as residents of the Penn State Mobile Home Park left a meeting about their options for relocation.
The park was purchased July 30 by a group called 1752 North Atherton Street Associates, which includes the address of the property. Residents were told they must move from the site by July of next year.
Heidi Nicholas, a partner of Nicholas Enterprises and also the North Atherton Street group, has said previously that the long-term plans for the site are “not yet defined,” but that she plans to redevelop it.
Monday’s meeting was one of two this week at the Park Forest Village United Methodist Church, during which Centre County and human service housing organizations attempted to offer assistance as residents prepare to move. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Heather Emminger, listed as the relocation coordinator for the North Atherton Street group, asked the Centre Daily Times not to attend the meeting, so the group could focus on the residents.
Emminger declined comment after the meeting, deferring to Nicholas. Nicholas could not be reached for comment Monday.
None of the several dozen residents who attended Monday's meeting would give their names, and few offered comments.
One man, who said he has lived in the park for a few years, said “it’s not good.”
A woman, attending with her son, said she's lived in the park for about a decade and that she was “floored” by the sale. She said she moved into the park because she was a widow and could afford it.
Her son said the family doesn’t want to move and that many of the residents want to stay in the State College Area School District.
However, the mother and son praised the human service advocates in attendance, calling them “helpful.”
Colby Woodring, a case manager for Housing Transitions Inc., was one of those advocates, and she said she and others were there for the residents.
“We are reaching out to residents to inform them they may utilize our services to assist them as they develop their next steps,” she said, referring to prepared remarks. “We will be referring the residents to the opportunities in the community that can assist them.”
Woodring shared a letter given to park residents that lists local advocacy organizations and phone numbers, as well as several dates in early September when they can meet with case workers, who will assess their needs.
According to documents filed with the Centre County Recorder of Deeds Office, the North Atherton Street group bought the park site for $6.225 million. The property's fair market value is listed as $2.16 million.
A mortgage agreement also was filed on the property, between Nicholas and former owner Daron Dibert, for $5.5 million of the purchase price.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter