On October 10, while residents of Gasparilla Mobile Estates were busy picking up pieces of their lives from the neighborhood, the road and beyond, they received a letter they will never forget. It came from the owner of the property, letting them know their leases were terminated.
Gasparilla Mobile Estates is going to cease to be without a miracle.
Dave Dietrich, a resident of the park and a community advisor to many who helped out after the tornado that blew through on January 16, contacted us and gave us the bad news that the owner was giving up the ghost on the little trailer park that has stood there for decades.
Residents now have until the first week in November to find another place to live. For many of them that will be very tricky, as they are on extremely limited incomes.
The letter to residents read, “As you all know, an act of God occurred on September 28, 2022 that has made it impossible for us to continue operating Gasparilla Mobile Estates as a mobile home park. We do not have the resources to restore Gasparilla Mobile Estates to a functioning mobile home park and we do not plan to do so.”
The letter continued.
“We are very sorry that it has come to this. We know that this has been an incredibly difficult situation for all of our residents, many of whom have been in the park for numerous years. We wish that the situation was different, but unfortunately, we are not able to continue to operate as a mobile home park.
“At this time, we are unable to provide essential services. Effective immediately, all leases are hereby terminated due to hurricane Ian. Everyone must vacate the park and procure other accommodations by November 7, 2022. As of the date of this letter, we assume no responsibility for anyone that remains in the park until November 7, 2022. Each homeowner assumes their own risk of remaining in or entering the park.
“We are requesting that everyone make arrangements to tender the title to their home to the park owner via the park manager. We are unable to clean up the homes without the title. If you do not provide the title, homeowners are responsible for the clean up of their own homes.
“Any resident that paid October 2022 or future rents in advance will be issued a refund.”
These were hard words for Dietrich to read. His home was badly damaged in the January tornado, and residents like him were harder hit when an executive order by Gov. DeSantis providing emergency relief after that storm did not apply to the mobile home park residents.
Hurricane Ian has destroyed the park, but there are still some homes that stand tall. That’s why Dietrich doesn’t understand by it has to be an across-the-board decision.
“Given there are a good number of homes at GME that are fine and/or repairable (mine not being one of them) one logical solution would be to convert the totaled units/lots to RV sites and to allow the existing homes to remain as is,” he said. “Naturally, GME could use some help to understand our legal rights and perhaps someone who wants to invest in (or purchase) the park.”