Schenectady County

Hillcrest residents hopeful they can stay

Carmella Fusco keeps boxes in the hallway of her mobile home just in case. With the deadline to vaca
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Carmella Fusco keeps boxes in the hallway of her mobile home just in case.

With the deadline to vacate the Hillcrest Commons Mobile Home Park approaching in June, she and her sister, Frances Fusco, aren’t sure whether they should start packing or continue hoping. There are rumors the 53-site property will soon be sold to someone interested in fixing the failing sanitary system.

“Every day we wake up, we’re not sure what we’re going to hear,” she said Wednesday. “We don’t know what’s going on.”

It’s a problem facing Hillcrest’s tenants in the month they have before the state Department of Environmental Conservation has ordered the park vacated. The Fuscos are among a majority of residents choosing to remain in the park in hopes of avoiding a costly and unwanted move.

Others have left. Along the rows of trailers lay rectangular patches of dirt and bare utility poles, where former renters pulled up stakes.

The sisters don’t have the option. Frances Fusco is disabled and relies on her sister for income; neither has enough money to afford a new home elsewhere.

Neighbor Barbara Heimlich finds herself in the same position. She’s disabled and lives alone, save for the company of her cat and two dogs.

“Most of us plan on staying until they literally kick us out because we have no place to go,” she said.

In December, park residents received a letter from Morgan Management, the Rochester-area company that owns the property, indicating the park was under a DEC order to cease discharging from its failed wastewater treatment system into the nearby Normans Kill. The letter offered residents up to $4,000 to relocate their homes to one of three Morgan Management properties — in Porter Corners and Ballston Spa in Saratoga County — by April.

However, many park residents said moving their homes to the parks located more than 30 miles away would prove a hardship. Others worried state regulations would prevent them from moving their older-model trailers from the 42-year-old park.

In February, DEC officials granted Morgan Management a 60-day extension. Around the same time, rumors circulated that Morgan Management was selling the property to someone willing to fix its sanitary system.

Regional DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson said the DEC hasn’t received any plans to remedy the park’s sanitary system. As it stands, he said, the park would need to cease its discharge by June, absent viable plans and finances.

“There has been some contact, but nothing formal,” he said.

Bryan Dibble, a regional manager with Morgan Management, did not return calls for comment.

Park manager Richard Dickershaid said he’s had contact with Dibble and was told to assure residents a solution is in the making. He said engineers have already mapped the park’s sanitary system and performed some maintenance.

“We’re just going to have to hope and keep our fingers crossed,” he said. “The best thing to do is hang on right now.”

As for Heimlich, a resolution can’t come soon enough. She’s seen contractors working around the park and has read a letter from Morgan Management urging residents to be patient.

But Heimlich has also held off on improvements she planned months ago. And she’ll limit any repairs to basic maintenance just in case she’s forced to move.

“It’s like living in limbo,” she said. “You don’t know what going to happen day to day.”

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