Walnut Grove Mobile Home Park in Locke.

The Citizen file

Since October 2013, the Cayuga County Health Department has tried to seek compliance from the owners of Walnut Grove Mobile Home Park on Tucker Hill Road in Locke, for various public health violations.

If a mobile home park has five or more occupied lots, the health department is obligated to regulate the water supply. There are nine lots occupied in Walnut Grove.

Eileen O'Connor, Director of Environmental Health, said some of the public health violations included instances of no water to residents, instances of no disinfection to the water, instances of incomplete operation reports and lack of operation reports and instances of sewage on the ground surface. These are violations to the state sanitary code.

"We've been trying to gain compliance for a long time on all of these issues," said O'Connor. "They were in compliance for many of the requirements for many, many years. Then they started to violate many of the requirements. I'm not really sure why they changed the way they were operating the mobile home park. We have many mobile home parks in our county, and they are currently treating their water, so it's not an onerous code to comply with."

The health department originally sought compliance from Four Winds LLC, which formerly owned Walnut Grove. The property was transferred to 85-year-old Thelma Slater-Chapman on July 19, 2015. Both Four Winds LLC and Chapman have the same address. O'Connor said she believed Slater-Chapman was the president of Four Winds LLC.

The Health Department is now summoning Slater-Chapman to a hearing at the end of October. As the owner, she is also responsible for a fine of $28,000 for the numerous public health violations.

Slater-Chapman, said there is an ultra-violet light used on the water supply, which is part of the sanitation process. She does not believe in using chlorine to disinfect the water, however. This is something that is required under the sanitary code.

"The Health Department thinks we're out of order," said Slater-Chapman. "They're out of order. They're killing people by dumping chlorine in it. It's better to drink the water without anything in it."

O'Connor said if an ultra-violet light is used, less chlorine is required to disinfect the water. The last time the Health Department was in the park's pump house, the ultra-violet light was not operational. She does not know if it is working now.

Andy Chapman, Slater-Chapman's husband, built the Walnut Grove Mobile Home Park back in the 1970's. He said no one has ever gotten sick from the water.

"In fact, we drink the water ourselves," said Chapman. "You don't need the UV light, it's just an extra."

Slater-Chapman also said she had hired a certified operator to monitor the mobile home park's water system, but that individual failed on several occasions to test the water and perform other necessary activities.

Still, it's the mobile home park owner's responsibility to make sure all the code requirements are met, said O'Connor.

Slater-Chapman plans to sell the park soon, however. O'Connor said that were the park to change hands, the county would work with the new owners to get the violations fixed.

"Our sole goal is for the park to have regulations in place to protect the public health of the residents in that park," said O'Connor.

Since the park may change hands soon, the Health & Human Services Committee of the Cayuga County Legislature voted Thursday to table a measure that would allow the chairman and director of the Health Department to hire an outside law firm assisting with the matter.

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.


County Government Reporter