CLEVELAND — After a more than a year of planning, the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy is recommending the future closure of the Euclid Beach Mobile Home Community in North Collinwood and the relocation of its 140 tenants into affordable housing. In 2021, the conservancy purchased the beleaguered mobile home park, which has suffered from decades of deferred maintenance under its prior owner. As part of its decision, the conservancy also plans on preserving the property as public green space and adjoining it to the nearby Euclid Creek Reservation.
Ward 8 City Councilman Mike Polensek, who grappled with the future of the property back in 1982, announced his support of the plan contingent upon the “fair and equitable” relocation of existing tenants, he said.
“There have been some tough decisions to make here. It’s nothing new for me. I’ve had to make a lot of tough decisions over the years,” Polensek said. “This has weighed very heavily on me. I know people in there. I have friends in there. I know the condition of the property because I get calls out of there constantly.”
In 2019, Polensek received a call from the previous owner, Dallas-based Moore Enterprises, who had informed him that the company intended to sell the mobile home park to a private developer interested in building highrise apartments on the 28.5 acres of prime lakefront land. Fearing that such a development would indefinitely limit public access to the region’s greatest resource, Lake Erie, Polensek reached out to Western Reserve Land Conservancy, who eventually purchased the 28.5 acres for just over $5 million.
The conservancy then announced that they would freeze any rent hikes for at least 12 months. The nonprofit also invested more than $100,000 to install individual water meters at each one of the trailers.
The mobile home park had been operating under one water main, splitting the total water bill amongst the 140 tenants regardless of how much water each unit used. That was far from the only infrastructure-related issue present at the mobile home park.
The main water and sewer lines reportedly have substantial leaks and pipes are prone to freezing in the colder months. Flooding is also prevalent at the site. The electrical lines are severely compromised. An electrical panel providing service to several units could be seen held together with duct tape.
The dilapidated condition of the mobile home park presented a conundrum: the infrastructure could barely sustain the current operation but making millions in repairs would cause tenants’ rents to double or triple.
“The unscrupulous manner in which the previous owner managed this property was absolutely horrible,” said Jared Saylor of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “The way the tenants were treated under his management is the exact opposite of how we have approached this.”
In a public presentation Thursday evening, the conservancy unveiled its recommendations for the future of the property as well as some of the safeguards the non-profit will be offering to tenants. The conservancy has pledged to hold off on relocating tenants for a minimum of 12 to 15 months, proving ample time to identify new living arrangements for the tenants.
The conservancy has partnered with other local affordable housing and social services non-profits, including EDEN Housing, the Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Cleveland Housing Network, Habitat for Humanity, the city and county land bank.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy will also be providing a social worker to assist residents.
“We want to make sure when residents are transitioned off, they are transitioned into affordable housing within this neighborhood,” Saylor said.
Although supporting a plan that includes the relocation of dozens of longtime residents makes for a difficult decision to reach, Polensek said it is imperative to keep in mind that had the property been purchased by a for-profit developer, the existing tenants would be evicted in a matter of weeks — not months.
“Some of them don’t realize that if it wasn’t for the [conservancy], they would all be out already,” Polensek said.
Residents of the mobile home park that were contacted by News 5 on Friday did not want to speak on camera and did not want to be identified. Although the residents are anxious for what the future holds, they said they are cautiously optimistic.