By Brandi Makuski
Jessica Hills moved into Four Seasons Mobile Home Park about five years ago. It was a stepping stone, she said, on the road to buying her own home.
On Monday, Hills, 38, was packing her family’s belongings into boxes earlier than planned. She has no choice but to move, she said, because the city will disconnect water service to the mobile home park on July 1.
Residents received the disconnection notice on June 24; the second warning in three months.
Hills said she pays for water service in her monthly rent, as do all the park’s residents. Some of the mobile homes in Four Seasons, like Hills’, are rented; others are owner-occupied, but all rely on the same city water service.
“I’m not sticking around anymore,” said Hills, who has two children, 11 and 16. “I did the first time, but not anymore; I’m done taking a beating.”
Hills’ eyes welled up with tears as she looked over the boxes she was filling with her belongings. “It’s emotional,” she said, “this is my home. But this is becoming a continuous thing and I just can’t do it anymore.”
Four Seasons Mobile Home Park is owned by Four Seasons MHC LLC, which in its state corporate filings lists an Appleton office, with headquarters located in Cheyenne, Wyo. No phone number was listed for either office.
According to city records, 2018 taxes for the property totaling $25,698.78 have not yet been paid.
Residents of the park say they know the owner as a man named Christopher Reeves, who took over the property about three years ago, Hills said.
Since then, she said the quality of life in the park was gone downhill. Hills’ detached storage shed collapsed two winters ago, and despite Reeves’ promise to repair it, the shed remains collapsed and unusable on her lot. Last winter, Hills’ heat stopped working in the middle of the night. As a last resort, she contacted the park’s former handyman, who she said climbed on her roof to clear heating vents. Her door frame is warped and her concrete front steps are broken into pieces and unstable. In her kitchen, the gas stove doesn’t function properly, the skylight leaks, and there’s no smoke detector.
“And this is one of the nicest rentals in the park,” she said.
When park residents received the first water disconnection notice in April, Hills said she reached out to WAOW Channel 9 in Wausau for help because she didn’t know who else to call. After the story aired on April 5, Hills said Reeves suddenly became unreachable.
“All the phone numbers we had were disconnected, and he’s not responding to any emails now,” Hills said Monday. “But somebody still picks up the rent checks, those sure get cashed.”
Hills said tenants can either pay rent via an online portal or by paper check. She opts for the latter, leaving a check on the door of trailer #231, a building that appears to be vacant but was labeled as the park’s office.
Mary, a 25-year-old woman who requested anonymity because she claims she’s been threatened by Reeves, said she’s lived in the park for three years. Mary, a full-time hairdresser, has a five-year-old child and owns her own trailer, which she said she “completely remodeled, down to the frame,” in 2016.
Mary said her family lives in fear of what could happen next in the park, and she’s afraid for the immediate future.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Mary said on Monday, her voice cracking with emotion. “A lot of people here can’t afford to move.”
Like Hills, Mary’s water bill is included in the rent. Mary said her monthly payment breaks down to $282 for lot rent, about $32 for water, and $6 for parking and taxes.
When she moved into the park, Mary said it was a vibrant neighborhood, once the home to more than 150 people.
“There were kids playing everywhere, people were grilling outside all the time, everybody knew each other, there was a bonfire almost every weekend—it was a community,” Mary said. “Since Chris took over, I can’t tell you the last time I saw a kid walking down the street.”
As of April, she claims, park residency has decreased down to about 40. One key problem is the residents’ inability to reach Reeves, and there’s no identified maintenance provider for residents, Mary said.
“We had a park manager but I heard she quit,” Mary said. “I have no idea who to call, but nobody’s heard from Chris since October.”
Last week, Mary said her neighbor saw Reeves in the park—he stands out driving a Tesla with California license plates, she said—taking pictures of the trailers. But the last time she heard from Reeves was via a mass email sent to park residents, which, according to Mary, told park tenants they were required to repaint their trailers before leases could be renewed.
“We feel trapped,” she said. “It’s like he doesn’t care there are human beings living here.”
Mary said she plans to move her home into a mobile home park in Plover. Hills said she had “amazing friends” who have offered to help, and she’ll be staying with them until she finds a permanent solution for her family.
Both Mary and Hills say if the water disconnection comes to fruition on July 1, they plan legal action against Reeves.
“I want to know where my money has been going,” Mary said.
The park is located in Stevens Point District 8, which is represented by Councilwoman Cathy Dugan. A message left for Dugan was not immediately returned on Tuesday morning.
This story is ongoing.