By Joel Brown
President, RHP Properties, owner/operator of Ba Mar Manufactured Home Community
As the owners of the Ba Mar Manufactured Home Community in Stony Point, New York our concern in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy more than three years ago has been with our residents. We share in their pain, and once the storm passed, we immediately began working on the rebuilding process. Unfortunately, like many east coast waterfront communities, Ba Mar did not escape damage and many residents were forced to evacuate their homes.
Unlike other communities, however, Ba Mar residents have not had a final resolution to their housing problems, despite our hard work to help them remain in their home community. The vast majority of residents have told us they wish to remain in the Ba Mar community.
Working with the best engineers and other professionals, we are confident we have a successful resolution to this issue, which is raising, or elevating newly-built homes. This has proven to be a viable solution for protecting homes from flooding. In fact, this strategy has been implemented in select areas of New Jersey following Super Storm Sandy.
RHP Properties has presented this viable, structurally safe solution that provides residents what they want – to stay in their community – to the agencies that will make the ultimate decision. We have been working with the town and cooperating with all agencies involved in this process and are seeking everyone’s support for this solution. Elevating the homes is in compliance with ordinances and revised local building codes, and has been done before with manufactured homes. In preliminary discussions with the town’s Building Department, this plan received positive responses and we have applied for the necessary building permits to begin work.
Unfortunately, the state aid agencies the residents and we have been working with have not yet fully accepted this plan. The examples they have shared of elevated homes have been of unattractive, older homes and are not an accurate depiction of what a newly built elevated home in Ba Mar would look like. Many residents also have expressed they feel pressured to move out of the community they call home without a fair examination into alternatives that would allow them to stay.
Ba Mar is a flagship manufactured home community and it’s easy to see why our residents are unwilling to relocate elsewhere. The picturesque tree-lined neighborhood boasts waterfront views and boat slips. But beyond the amenities, most importantly, Ba Mar is a tight-knit community where residents have lived among their friends and families for years, if not their entire lives. They are near the churches they attend and the schools they send their children to. This is their home. Our residents have a strong sense of community.
While there are federal and/or state dollars available to these residents to rebuild, the government agencies involved have yet to distribute those funds to Ba Mar residents, allowing them to stay in their community.
We share in our residents’ frustration. We have presented a solution. It has been more than three years. It is time to make this happen.
For our part, RHP Properties will continue to work with all involved to find a safe, viable solution that will allow Ba Mar residents to remain in their community. We believe we have that solution, which is raising the homes, a common practice in coastal towns.
We need all the agencies involved to work with us to help our residents stay in their community.
Joel Brown is President of RHP Properties, Inc., which specializes in the professional management of manufactured home communities.