It’s been about 18 months since Syringa Mobile Home Park officially closed, but illegal dumping of household garbage and large furniture and appliance items has kept Latah County officials’ attention on the private park east of Moscow.
Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said county officials are trying to contact the bankruptcy trustee, who is effectively in control of the park, to see what the trustee is willing to do to take care of the accumulating garbage.
The late Magar E. Magar previously owned the park for years and failed to manage the park’s infrastructure, most notably water and sewer issues.
Blocking the park’s entrance so people cannot access the park to dump trash has been proposed by the county, but it would need permission from the trustee first.
“At this point, we don’t have a good way to charge people who go out there because it’s not posted ‘no trespassing’ and we don’t know that we have the cooperation of the bankruptcy estate to prosecute trespassing charges,” Thompson said.
Since it is a private park, he said illegal dumping charges would unlikely be brought against a person unless the trustee wants to press charges.
Latah County Solid Waste Coordinator Amanda Bashaw said the county is considering cleaning up the garbage like it did in July 2018 — about one month after the park closed — but would need permission from the bankruptcy trustee to clean the park. She said the household trash is a health hazard and a nuisance.
If both sides agree to the county picking up the garbage, Bashaw said she would like the trustee to limit access to the park so people cannot dump garbage there anymore and for the trustee to pay for the cleanup costs.
She said the bankruptcy court reimbursed the county for the $1,110 disposal bill after the household garbage cleanup in July 2018. That cleanup included volunteer help from residents and Latah Sanitation Inc.
“The county doesn’t have interest in being in business to go out and just clean up everybody’s private property,” Bashaw said.
Besides household garbage, Latah County Sheriff Richie Skiles said mattresses, couches, chairs, dishwashers and stoves have been dropped off at the park.
Skiles said deputies continue to conduct patrols at the park every once in a while.
He said the sheriff’s office has kicked three or four people out of the park for trying to live there since the park closed.
Skiles said he believes some of the people who are dumping garbage at the park simply do not have a large enough garbage cart at home for their garbage needs and do not want to pay more for a larger one.
“I don’t know what else it could be,” Skiles said.
Bashaw said it is hard to say why people are dumping garbage at the park, but she agreed with Skiles that perhaps some people do not have a cart large enough to fit their family’s needs.
She said people might also haul trash to the transfer station, realize they missed the station’s business hours and bring the garbage to Syringa instead.
Latah County Commissioner Tom Lamar said the garbage is a public health hazard and the park owner should be required to clean up the mess because it is private property. Once the park is cleaned, it should be sold to someone who can take care of the property, Lamar said. In addition, he said the existing mobile homes are in a state of disrepair and are getting worse over time.
“This is the problem of 30 years of a landowner not doing repairs on their private property,” Lamar said.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.