For the last year or so, the plight of the Ash Creeek Mobile Home Park -- a low-income enclave on Highland Road, between Interstate 30 and White Rock Lake, that's been around since the 1940s -- has been the source of much contention and controversy: The city wants the thing gone, claiming it's a wasteland of crime and code violations, while the residents claim the city merely wants to turn it over to developers itching to cover the park with McMansions and sprawl. In December 2005, Jim wrote in the paper version of Unfair Park: "The real appeal of the Ash Creek Mobile Home Park is simple: $192 a month. After buying one of the mobile homes for a few grand, a person or a family can live here for two bills a month. Where else can you do that? Just about nowhere, which is just about where many of these people will wind up."
In the year since Jim's original story, the tale of Ash Creek has thrived on the local blogosphere: Sharon Boyd's DallasArena.com has run several pieces (among them, this one) calling for Ash Creek to be saved, while Mike Orren at Pegasus News has posted on his site several pieces (like this one) in which the park's described as a trash-strewn eyestore he'd like removed from the neighborhood in which he's a member of the crime watch.
Well, this morning, the Save Ash Creek faction sent out a press release containing a previously unpublished letter it says it sent to council member Leo Chaney at the end of November. That missive is after the jump -- along with another one that appears to put the final nail in the park's coffin.
Chaney, in whose District 7 the mobile home park sits, is either doing nothing to help its residents or promising them everything, depending upon whom you believe.
On November 18, Orren wrote this:
"FRI President Bill Coleman took the floor and pointed out that the organization and City Councilman Leo Chaney were working to find ways to help the displaced residents, using city programs and private orgainzations. He said that a commitee would be formed to reach out to the Ash Creek residents. He said that there had always been a desire to help the residents but that [Ash Creek owner and landlord Steve] Crossett had blocked the flow of information."
But that's the opposite of what some Ash Creek residents claim in the following letter, which is reprinted in its entirety:
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Open letter to Dallas City Council Member, Leo V. Chaney, Jr.: from SaveAshCreek Homes — Nov. 25, 2006
Hello Mister Chaney,
You know who we are. We are the residents of Ash Creek Mobile Home Park.
We are primarily a Latino family park with many children.
You are a champion of the downtrodden, the oppressed, the poor. We wonder, why does your compassion, for those suffering social injustice, not extend to the residents of Ash Creek Mobile Home Park?
You are our city council member. We live in your district and most of us, voted for you.
We have reached out, in various ways, for a dialog. You do not respond.
We were able to arrange contact with you, on two occasions.
1) Barbara Cline, resident of Ash Creek Mobile Home Park, was in attendance at a meeting, but her identity was unknown to you; until she asked you about the Park. It was the only way we could talk to you.
You told Barbara that you would tour the Park: Anonymously.
Why? Are you a spy or something? We are honest people, expecting a fair shake from the city. So far, we haven't gotten, it.
Members of the Dallas City Plan Commission, came to the park and spoke with us. They toured the park. They gave us a chance.
Do you think we will all get it together, tidy-up things and try and fool you? If it were only that easy.
We are who we are, but we do not deserve the "trailer park" genocide being waged against us by the Ferguson Road Initiative (FRI).
One definition of "genocide" is "deliberate and systematic extermination of a cultural group."
Citation: dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/genocide
If there was ever a unique culture group; it's us.
We have been good stewards of the land for 57 years. We have dealt with copperhead snakes, possums and reports of 50 pound, hybrid coyotes roaming Ash Creek.
We have lived in peace until your organization, the FRI, sent provocateurs after us (albeit, inept provocateurs; at least on the 'legal' end of things) .
2) The Second time we were able to make contact with you, was when Park resident Jack Lougheed, (although you kept calling him Tracy) called-in to your radio show on KNON, 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., Thursday mornings. He asked a question about the Park and you eventually cut him off.
You are correct that the issue may never come before the city council but you are "our" City Council member.
Please speak with us about the deeply disturbing issues that concern the ambiance of the White Rock Lake areas. Once again, please speak with us. It's your job.
Onslaught: three-story, big matchbox homes (we watch them as they are being built) forced on the White Rock area.
There are only so many huge, magnificent trees in our neighborhood. Once they are bulldozed by big home builders, our area will never totally recover, ecologically.
Mister Chaney, how often do you drive on Ferguson Road and through the pleasing ecology of its adjacent residential neighborhoods?
Why have you failed to respond to our communications?
Does it have anything to do with our ethnic make-up at Ash Creek Mobile Home Park?
Or might it be a preconception and type casting of people who live in a "trailer park." You may not know that WE are nurses, school crossing guards, construction workers, domestic workers, artists, musicians, veterans, gourmet cooks, gardeners and retired seniors, mothers, fathers, and children attending nearby schools.
Have you and others determined that we do not count, that we are simply insignificant members of your District?
We are "seriously" starting to wonder about all of this.
It's not like we are a bunch of troublemakers (as we have been "SO" incorrectly portrayed). Does that inaccurate portrayal, makes us, "less?"
We are your constituents.
We will call your office soon to try again to make a time to meet with you. Please meet with us; we need your help, advice and "City Councilman" expertise regarding our future at Ash Creek Mobile Home Park.
COUNCIL MEMBER CHANEY, WE ARE YELLING, FROM A RAGING SEA, FOR LIVE PRESERVERS!
Save Ash Creek HOMES email@example.com www.c-noah.com P.S. Never mind, Mister Chaney... never mind... SACH
But all of this is likely a moot point at this late date. Last week, the residents of Ash Creek received a letter from the park's owner, Steve Crossett (who lives in Austin), informing them they're being evicted. On February 9, 2007, Ash Creek will be no more, he writes:
"Please be advised that the Ash Creek Mobile Home Park will cease operation as February 9, 2007. I sincerely regret that Ash Creek will be closing. I always planned to continued to operate the park. That plan, however, is no longer feasible under the circumstances. This letter shall serve as written notice of termination of the Lease, effective as of 5:00 p.m. on February 9, 2007 (the 'Termination Date').
You have a month-to-month lease that is being terminated. Please take appropriate action to vacate the Leased Premises by February 9, 2007. Everyone residing at this address must vacate. You will also need to arrange to remove all of your property from the Leased Premises in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Lease no later than the Termination Date. Your Lease provides that I have the right to dispose of mobile homes and other property that you leave on the premises. After that date, you will have no further right to occupy or use the Leased Premises."
In other words, Merry Christmas. --Robert Wilonsky