Residents of Briarwood Travel Villa in Largo uncertain of the future
10:23 PM, May 7, 2013
9:15 AM, May 8, 2013
LARGO, Fla. - "Everybody here's family," said Roland Riggle.
Riggle has spent the past 10 years living in a mobile home at the Briarwood Travel Villas in Largo. Now, he spends a lot of his time wondering what the future might hold for him and the other people that consider Briarwood home.
"All we got's each other here. Nobody knows where they're going to go, what they're going to do. They can't afford to move away," explained Riggle.
The owners of Briarwrood have entered into a development agreement to build an apartment complex on the site.
"I think it's important to point out it's already currently zoned as multi-family housing. The change that the park owner is asking for is simply to increase the density. He has every right to build 180 units on it right now," said Jonathan Damonte,an attorney representing Briarwood.
The Largo City Commission will vote on allowing the extra units. Residents on Tuesday were preparing signs in a final plea to save Briarwood, which is licensed as a travel park not a mobile home park. Which means many of these low-income residents don't qualify for financial assistance under the Florida Mobile Home Relocation Corporation established in 2002.
Christine Allamanno of Gulf Coast Legal Services is representing some of the residents in the dispute.
"We would like for this to stay what it is. Realistically, I'm not sure that's going to happen; and if it doesn't happen, yes, we need to make sure all these people are taken care of," said Allamanno.
"The park owner is willing to sit down with every one of the tenants on a person to person, case by case basis and make arrangements to assist them with relocating within Pinellas County in comparable housing," responded Damonte.
For most of the people that live here, the uncertainty is the hardest part.
Wiping away tears, Riggle summed up the emotions.
"Everybody here is sad. So just say your prayers for us, and I'll say mine for everybody."