Last of North Atherton Street mobile home parks to close

mcarroll@centredaily.comMarch 28, 2014 

The last of the North Atherton Street mobile home parks is closing.

Franklin Manor Mobile Home Park is shutting down, according to a letter sent Friday to residents and Patton Township officials. The 22 families that live in the park were informed that they have until Oct. 1 to find new homes.

The park is next to the former Penn State Mobile Home Park, which closed July 31.

Natalie Corman, Centre County Office of Adult Services director, was informed Friday that the mobile home park is closing, and she said officials already are organizing assistance for residents.

Owner Ed Temple, when reached Friday, said the condition of the park’s infrastructure is failing, as are many of its trailers, and that ultimately led to the decision to close.

“This winter was a tipping point,” Temple said. “So many people had failures, frozen-up water lines broke. It just became evident they were just not functional anymore.”

He said closing the park is a “difficult decision.” It was established by his father in 1953, and Temple grew up there.

“It’s been a situation where I had generations of people there — parents and now their children,” he said. “We’ve tried to facilitate it. It’s just come to the point where we have to do something.”

Temple said the park was not being closed to make way for development, but did not rule that out as a possibility in the future.

It’s more bad news for an already strained affordable housing market in the Centre Region. About 250 affordable units were lost in 2013 and late 2012 between the closures of the Hilltop Mobile Home Park and the Penn State park and a serious fires in State College and Bellefonte, according to numbers from Housing Transitions Inc.

Corman said that a number of social service agencies, including Housing Transitions, have already been in contact and are planning the same type of response they employed for the other two mobile home park closings and the fires.

“We are very limited in our housing, especially when we know a number of residents work right there,” she said. “People are no longer going to be able to walk to jobs. Families have kids. We are mindful of moving (to different) school districts. We think of all of that.”

Temple said those factors weighed heavily when he made the decision to close.

“It was a very difficult decision,” he said. “These are low-income people. The sad thing is, (a number) of these people work at local restaurants, at low-income jobs. Now they are going to be forced to move. They can’t exist in the State College area because of the cost of living.”

He said people in the neighboring State College park moved to outlying communities like Lamar and Tyrone.

“That’s the only choice they have,” Temple said. “I feel bad for the kids, too. All the young kids go to grade school here. It’s just a very tough situation.”

Temple said the state mandates he pay owners to help with moving expenses. Owners with trailers that can’t be moved will receive $2,500 and Temple will pay demolition costs. Owners with trailers that are in better shape can get up to $6,000.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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