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Residents of Lawrence mobile home park moving on

Published on -5/21/2012, 7:20 AM

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- A construction project that will build housing for about 1,000 University of Kansas students is forcing a close-knit Lawrence mobile home park to break up.

Residents of Gaslight Mobile Home Village, which had about 150 trailers, were told in November that Mid-America Manufactured Housing Communities was selling the property to an Austin, Texas-based developer, Aspen Heights, which plans to replace the park with townhomes for students.

One of the residents, Toni Martin, moved to Gaslight Village with her three children in September 2010. She said her children quickly made friends and the family bonded with neighbors. Recently, as she stood in her empty singlewide trailer, her voice cracked when she spoke of leaving the community, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/Lfxtlj).

"We loved everybody in the park," she said. "We've never had a community this close."

Martin said her ex-husband was a Marine, so the family moved often. She thought the moving was over when she returned to Lawrence.

"The kids need a place they can settle down at," said Martin, who works in the kitchen at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Martin and her children now live at Edgewood Apartments. The park owners said they couldn't buy out her trailer until June, so she's paying $285 a month at the park and $434 per month at Edgewood. Martin said the additional rent is a significant burden.

Tom Horner III, an executive with the trailer park's owners, said residents have no deadline for moving because the deal with the developers is still being negotiated.

Horner said his company would pay residents' moving costs if they relocate to another park in Lawrence. The company had paid to move only two of the about 130 trailers and about 10 residents had relocated so far.

Horner said residents are allowed to stay in the park until the end of the school year.

Frances Wales, 78, said she doesn't blame Kansas students for being forced to move from her home of 20 years.

"If it wasn't for KU students, I wouldn't have had a job," said Wales, who worked security at Robinson Gymnasium for 37 years before retiring in 2004.

She said she would have started to move already, but much of her time is spent caring for two older sisters.

Wales' singlewide is carefully landscaped with railroad ties, various flowers and shrubs. She said she plans to have Gaslight's owners move her trailer to Brookwood Mobile Home Park, where most residents will relocate. She expects to move within a month.

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