New Port Richey demolishing 52 units at Walden Pond mobile home park
NEW PORT RICHEY - Demolition has begun on 52 condemned units at the Walden Pond mobile home park in New Port Richey. The city took over the project from the mobile home park owners and hired Signature Construction. Crews began working last week at the site, at Palmetto Road and Oelsner Street, northwest of U.S. 19 and Main Street, said Sherman Applegate, the city's public works director. Last month, the city agreed to pay $62,600 for the work.Signature Construction isn't new to mobile home demolition. The contractor cleared away ramshackle mobile homes at U.S. 19 and Grand Boulevard in Port Richey. The city had to wait for an asbestos survey before demolition could start. No asbestos was found, but regulations require the contractor to take precautions against the cancer-causing substance as units are torn down. The city can try to recoup its expenses through a lien on the limited partnership that owns the site, Assistant City Attorney Jim Lang advised in October. The city can foreclose on the property if the lien is not paid. The partnership also could owe the city roughly $40,000 in water bills, code enforcement fines and city staff expenses. Despite the lean budget, enough money for demolition could come from the council's contingency fund, Applegate said. Paul Beraquit, the managing partner among four owners of Walden Pond LLC, pleaded for more time to clear sections of the site. Residents still occupy nearly a dozen units at the park. "We're going forward," Beraquit told council members in October. "We're trying to do the right thing. We're not turning our backs." Walden Pond LLC, which has owned the property since 2005, pledged to clean up the 8.4-acre area, attorney Bryan Sykes told council members last month. Officials agreed to let the owner tackle the project but imposed deadlines. The "serious health and safety issue" at the mobile home park is alarming, Councilwoman Judy Debella Thomas said.
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