East Side mobile home residents petition to stay in homes despite plans to create a public park
The Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park’s residents' union handed a 5,000-signature petition to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC) Tuesday, asking the conservancy to change its plans to displace residents.
About 30 people rallied in support of the United Residents of Euclid Beach (UREB) outside of WRLC’s Downtown Cleveland offices before UREB handed the petition over to the conservancy.
“We shouldn’t be replaced by a park system and by government funding when we are people and we have homes and we have a community,” said UREB steering committee member Heather Malone. “If they could just see a different vision of what we see, that maybe they could make that possible and they would become the real hero.”
The petition, which was made in partnership with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), not only asks WRLC and its partners to refrain from closing the mobile home park, it also asks for open dialogue with residents to explore alternative solutions.
“Residents are very willing to make compromise and appreciate expanded access to public parks is something that is not an inherently bad thing. It just shouldn’t come at the cost of displacing hundreds of people,” said NEOCH Director of Organizing and Advocacy Josiah Quarles.
Several residents said a public park can coexist with the mobile homes.
“I know they can open their eyes to a different kind of vision,” Malone said. “It’s our homes. We don’t want to move.”
Malone handed the petition to Jared Saylor, WRLC’s Director of Communications and Public Relations.
Saylor said a letter on the Euclid Beach Neighborhood Plan website will serve as WRLC’s response to Tuesday’s rally. The website provides information from several partners — including Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the City of Cleveland — regarding plans for the future of the neighborhood.
The letter is consistent with WRLC Senior Vice President and Director of Thriving Communities Matt Zone’s message from a month ago that the WRLC did good by the residents by providing sufficient time, assistance and fair financial compensation to find new places to live.
“Western Reserve Land Conservancy could have closed EBMHC and provided 180 days’ notice to residents to vacate the property. Instead, it made significant upgrades to the mobile home community, froze rent increases for 14 months, and pledged to residents that no change in their tenancy would occur until after the Euclid Beach Neighborhood Plan was developed,” the letter reads.
The last item on the petition asks for “Good faith, human, respectful, and cooperative negotiations” and that UREB be provided with financial and planning documents regarding plans for the mobile home park.
Some residents and supporters spoke at Tuesday’s Cuyahoga County Council meeting after the rally.
NEOCH Executive Director Chris Knestrick applauded the county’s latest strategic plan, which includes a goal to end homelessness in the county by 25%. But he said during the council meeting that the County Planning Commission’s involvement in the plans for the Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park ran counter to the county’s goal of minimizing homelessness.
“Clearly green space and human beings can live together and support one another and there seems no reason that we should be displacing people and ultimately making them homeless," Knestrick said, "But maybe more importantly, removing over 120 units of naturally occurring affordable housing in our community."
There are about 140 residents of the mobile home park. Most own their homes and pay a fee for their lots.
WRLC purchased the 28.5-acre plot of land from a Texas-based developer for $5.8 million in 2021 and told residents last month that the mobile home park will cease to operate by September 2024 and that the property would become part of the Cleveland Metroparks.