Lone Jack shuts off water service to trailer park

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

LONE JACK, Mo. -- Residents of a Lone Jack trailer park face a Wednesday deadline to move out of their homes because of the park owner's refusal to pay the city about $20,000 in delinquent sewer bills.

A "for sale" sign sits along the gravel lane leading into the Summits Edge community and bright pink notices posted on each trailer warn that the homes are unsafe for habitation.

That's because Lone Jack shut off sewer service Monday morning and gave residents two days to move.

The trailer park owner, Carol Filipek, said the city on Monday halted her attempt to switch the trailer park's sewer service to a private lagoon.

Filipek said her disputes with the city involved zoning and bills she contended were excessive.

"I've got people who are living by the week who can't afford to live anyplace else," Filipek said.

Betty Burns is one of the dozens of tenants of 22 trailers who are caught in the middle of the dispute. Burns, who has lived there 13 years, is retired and dependent on Social Security. Other tenants include a mix of single people and couples with children, including a 3-month-old.

Burns said she cannot afford to leave.

"I own my trailer, and they're giving me two days to move," Burns said. "I don't want to leave all my belongings here with no one to watch them."

The city was forced to halt sewer service because it needs the cash to pay debt on sewer improvements, said Lone Jack City Attorney Paul Campo. For about 10 months the city has sent warning letters to Filipek and her lawyer.

Filipek at one point threatened to sue the city. The city gave Filipek several opportunities to make a partial payment and set up a plan to pay the debt, Campo said, but the efforts were unsuccessful.

"We've tried everything we can to avoid taking the action the city took ...," Campo said. "We couldn't justify raising sewer rates to other city residents."

Despite the city's move, Burns said Monday she was staying put.

"I don't care what the problem is," Burns said. "It's not fair to put people like me and that baby out."

Campo said he doesn't know what steps the city will take if residents don't cooperate by leaving.

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