Solution to trailer courts:
Scrape and start over,
unless you have a better idea
Nothing anyone could have done would have prevented Gary Danner of Fairview from dying in his mobile home when a fire started near his oxygen machine last week.
With an oxygen tank as an accelerant, the same fire in the most expensive custom home in the county undoubtedly would have produced the same result.
Nonetheless, the shoddy condition of the court where Danner’s trailer was located and the tight spacing of trailers in the park, which contributed to fire spreading to the next unit, put the focus, once again, on the unacceptable condition of trailer “parks” and “courts” around the county.
A little more than a year ago, there was a similar situation at the trailer park on Main Street in Ephraim. A fire started on the porch of one trailer and quickly spread to the trailer next door. Both units were destroyed.
We don’t have all the answers. We just know that some leadership, some public-private cooperation, and possibly involvement by the Utah Legislature is needed to address ratty trailer parks throughout rural Utah.
There are about a dozen such parks in Sanpete County. Unlike many lovely parks on the Wasatch Front, the parks do not have interior roads. They do not have sidewalks. There is no designated parking for vehicles. There is scant to no landscaped open space.
So what do our local parks have?
As described above, most are overcrowded.
Many units in the parks, perhaps the majority, were manufactured prior to 1976 when Congress raised the standard for mobile homes. These pre-1976 units have little to no insulation, thin roofs, thin walls, poor windows and inefficient heating systems. Often they are not airtight or watertight.
Throughout our local parks are trailers with plywood add-ons that violate building and safety codes.
Many of the parks permit travel trailers, like Mr. Danner’s trailer, which are not designed to be lived in long-term.
To our knowledge, Ephraim is the only municipality in the county that has done a thorough inspection of trailer parks within its boundaries.
We suspect if all municipalities, as a first step, had building professionals do thorough inspections of their parks, they would find, as Ephraim did, many code violations related to the water, sewer and power systems, and many improperly stored propane tanks.
And everywhere, in all the parks we’ve seen, there is junk, junk, junk.
It all adds up to dismal living environments. The environments border on the inhumane. They need to be fixed.
Ephraim is a model for the county in that it took the first step by inspecting its parks. Then, by threatening to close the DJ park, it forced the owner to fix life-safety issues related to water, sewer and power.
But when it came to full enforcement of all codes at all parks, it appears to us that Ephraim has backed off.
Our dream would be to see private enterprise, or a nonprofit organization, with government help, start buying up parks; relocating the residents temporarily; scraping the developments; creating interior roads, sidewalks and open spaces; installing trailers meeting current standards; and then moving residents back with opportunities to purchase the new units.
Too ambitious, you say. Okay, what’s the alternative? The only alternative we see is the status quo. And as we’ve explained here, the status quo is unacceptable.