CHESHIRE -- The tenants of Pine Valley Motor Home Park are due to vote before the end of this month on whether they will try to purchase the development.
Pine Valley's Tenants Association has scheduled a March 26 meeting of tenants where a vote is to be taken on their future role -- tenants or collective owners?
In February, park tenants learned of owner Morgan Management's intention to sell the 95-unit community off Wells Road. Morgan Management is also trying to find buyers for Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park in North Adams and The Spruces Mobile Home Park in Williamstown, two other local properties it owns.
Ronald Lancia, a member of Pine Valley's tenants association, thinks an affirmative vote is unlikely. He said the poor shape of the park's infrastructure will inevitably add a significant sum to the price of purchase.
"There would be a lot of improvements to be made," Lancia said. "Things have been going downhill for a long time, but for 10 years there hasn't been much capital improvement. ... [Morgan] has just paid the bills and that's it."
The price, according to the tenants association, is $2.1 million, and a majority of 51 percent need to approve a collective purchase for such a deal to go through. ROC [Resident Owned Communities] USA, a group Morgan has brought into the fold, is assisting in the proceedings.
The company has also contracted a Florida real estate broker named George Costonis to market
Meanwhile, the town has received a copy of Morgan's financials relating to the park. The documentation was requested on behalf of the tenants association. The tenants complain that an escrow account containing a portion of their monthly rents and destined for a capital improvement project has been tapped by the company without their consent.
Since November 2002, they've supplied $18.25 per month in addition to their rent toward the account, which was to pay for a long-delayed septic system improvement at the park, estimated to cost over $400,000.
"There's supposed to be over $200,000 in that account," Lancia said. "We would have half of the cost of the [septic infrastructure] project paid for already."
Officials read correspondence from Morgan at Tuesday's Selectmen's meeting saying the account only contained $41,000.
In past meetings, Morgan representatives explained the disparity, saying "extraordinary" pumping costs due to the park's failing system has necessitated use of these funds. According to the same correspondence, Morgan paid $70,000 in pumping costs in 2012, but invoices were not provided.
Tenants maintain they should have been told.
In their letter to the town, Morgan also said the necessary funding would be available by 2020 if the account is maintained, but Selectwoman Gloria Lewis pointed out that these figures don't add up.
Said Selectman Paul Astorino, "It's creative math. To get to that number they're going to have to come in and ask for a rent increase -- and the answer is ‘no.' "
The septic improvement is a state DEP-mandated [Department of Environmental Protection] project. A representative from the DEP recently said the agency is continuing to work with Morgan on moving the project forward and that Morgan is obligated to furnish the cost of the work, regardless of if they find a buyer.
To reach Phil Demers, email