TRACY - The water to the Cedar Lane trailer park in Tracy was turned on again Friday after the city was informed about legal recourse to cover some of the ongoing expense of providing water, and an offer to cover part of the arrears in payments.
"It's a lot better, everybody's happy," said trailer park resident Xeng Yang. "My old folks couldn't get to use the bathroom and it was hard for us to wash dishes."
According to Tracy City Administrator Roger Gorius, the water was shut off on Wednesday afternoon because park owner, Gene Stierns' Meadow Ridge Development Company of Mora, owes almost $10,000 on the park's water bill.
The trailer park has only one water meter for the whole complex. Water, sewer, and garbage payments are included in the $240 lot rental fees and are supposed to be paid by the owner.
The shutoff provoked a demonstration in front of the Tracy Municipal Building on Thursday by about a dozen Hmong residents of the trailer park and leaders of the local Hmong community in Walnut Grove.
Gorius explained to the demonstrators Thursday that the city as a public entity cannot collect rentals from or enter private property to do infrastructure work.
However, a way to keep the water flowing was found when representatives of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership contacted the city. According to Allie Jones, home ownership services director, tenants can file an emergency tenants remedy action with the county court.
"Three things could or should happen," Jones said. "First, the water should be turned on immediately. Then, whoever filed the action against the landlord, that person or persons, or someone appointed by the court, would receive the rents and put them in an escrow account which the current water bills would be paid from. Or, the court would force the landlord to pay the bill. We're working with legal aid and hope to have something within a few days."
Tracy City Attorney Frank Nielsen also confirmed that an anonymous donor had offered to contribute up to $1,000 toward the water bill.
"It's a magnanimous gesture and it speaks to the town," Gorius said.
According to Gorius, Stierns came to Tracy to meet with city officials on Friday, but the city did not recoup any of the back payments, and Stierns refused to accompany them to the trailer park to speak with the residents.
"The city's main goal is to make sure this doesn't happen again and these people aren't caught in the middle," Gorius said.
Attempts to contact Stierns or representatives of Meadow Ridge Development Company were unsuccessful.