Trailer park owner seeks approval on sewage issue

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By Joe Moskowitz
A long-running battle over a trailer park’s troubled sewage system may, or may not, be headed to Delaware County Court.

Richard Gulde, owner of Carlson’s Mobile Home Park in Arkville, is attempting to appeal a decision by Middletown Town Justice Glen George. In October 2012, Judge George ruled that Gulde had violated town, state and New York City Department of Environmental Protection codes and would have to complete repairs and faced fines of $250 a day until the work was completed. As of Tuesday, Middletown Code Enforcement Officer Pat Davis said Gulde owed more than $22,000.
There are a number of varying estimates on how much it will cost to bring the system up to code, but Davis says a plan approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would cost about $40,000. Davis says because of emergency repairs the work is about 25 percent completed.

Claims unfair treatment
But Gulde says he is appealing the ruling because he says the Town of Middletown and the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) are treating him unfairly. He says the CWC would have paid for the repairs if they were private residences. There are 17 families living in the park, but it is considered a business, so the CWC won’t pick up the tab. Gulde says this is a case of discrimination against low-income housing.

Has new attorney
Gulde has switched attorneys for the appeal, but he will still have to face several hurdles. According to Davis, no new evidence would be heard during an appeal. Appeals are based on whether the procedures in the original hearing were followed properly. And there is no guarantee Delaware County Judge Carl Becker will even schedule a hearing. It is up to the judge and Gulde didn’t file for an appeal until well after the state’s 30-day deadline.

Gulde says he plans to start the repair work regardless of what happens with the appeal. But he says he doesn’t have the money to complete it, and he says the residents don’t have the money if he tries to pass the expenses along to them.

He does concede the system is need of repairs, but he says it does work. However, because of repeated failures, the city, state and town don’t feel it works well enough.