Demolition begins on Seminole Heights 'eye sore'

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Neighbors of a vacant mobile home park at the edge of Seminole Heights were glad to see demolition on the “eye sore” begin Thursday.

The owner took the city to court to fight the demolition but city code enforcement says the empty trailers at the Green Park Residences mobile home park had become a hazard.

Before they were plowed over, the trailers had visible mold on the walls and trash strewn everywhere. The conditions were not livable according to city code enforcers, and neighbors didn’t feel safe letting their children walk through.

Broken windows and empty beer bottles littered the spaces between the lots at North 19th Street.

Serina Riuas tries to keep her son and other children away.

“When they leave Edison Elementary, a lot of kids come from that way and they don't walk down the street, they would walk through those,” she said, pointing at the trailers. “I would tell them not to go through there because raccoons and possums and those types of animals, they will attack.”

Tampa Code Enforcement condemned and emptied the homes back in 2012 but it wasn't until Thursday that the city was finally able to knock them down. All 18 mobile homes are being demolished, but it was against the owner's wishes.

“He was disputing the fact that we had the right to demolish these uninhabitable trailers,” explained Tampa Code Enforcement Manager Sal Ruggiero.

Greenpark's owner, Ross Scopelliti has been in a battle with the city for years over the maintenance of his property. But in an emergency hearing Wednesday, several neighbors, including Saleria Starkes, showed up saying they want the trailers gone.

“This is unsafe for people,” Starkes said. “Even with the homes here, look at the trees all over the wires and everything. It can damage other people's homes.”

A judge sided with the city.

Demolishing the trailers and clearing out the debris will cost the city about $35,000, according to code enforcement officials.

Neighbors are now looking forward toward new, hopefully cleaner neighbors.

“If we don't see a couple of homes, we would like to at least see a park for the young people, you know, somewhere that they can go and they can be safe, because right now, it's not safe,” Starkes suggested.

The city has had an ongoing foreclosure lawsuit on the property but it was put on hold when Scopelliti filed for bankruptcy. Scopelliti could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Meanwhile, the city is out the $35,000 it paid for the demolition, but it plans to monitor the property to make sure it’s maintained.