A street scene in Landfall, a city in the east metro.

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Landfall firings questioned

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW
  • Star Tribune
  • August 20, 2012 - 11:32 PM

The town of Landfall might have violated its lease with the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) when it fired its mobile home park manager last week and appointed new management without giving proper notice.

Legal action isn't imminent, but as owners of the trailer park that sits along Interstate 94 between Oakdale and Maplewood, the HRA sent a letter of censure to the Landfall City Council and requested to see the town's financial books and meeting records.

"If we are found in violation, we could lose control of the park," Mayor Greg Feldbrugge said on Monday. "Citizens should be outraged."

Feldbrugge, the only City Council member to oppose the dismissals, said he feared that bigger trouble could lie ahead. Members will meet on Tuesday to discuss the letter, which was sent after the council fired park manager Colleen Arndt on Aug. 8 and named former Oakdale Mayor Ted Bearth as interim park manager. City Attorney Kevin Shoeberg also was served a 90-day notice that his contract would be terminated.

According to terms of the lease, which has been in effect since 1997, Landfall has responsibility for day-to-day operations of the 300-unit trailer park, including hiring park management. The arrangement also requires city officials or the Landfall Village Housing and Redevelopment Authority to get written permission from the Washington County HRA before appointing new management.

The Washington County HRA "had no prior indication that the Landfall HRA was even considering or intending to attempt such a course of action," said the letter signed by its executive director, Barbara Dacy.

In her letter, Dacy made it clear that her office was not disparaging Bearth nor had any objections to him taking over. Her concern was that Landfall did not follow procedure.

The county became involved with Landfall when the park's private owner wanted to sell. Landfall is considered an "affordable" city in Washington County because of county support.

According to language in the lease, the Washington County HRA could take over the park if Landfall is found to be in default. The letter dated Aug. 15 did not suggest that would happen, but it was sent because "the tenant did something without telling the landlord," Dacy said. "We are putting them on notice."

In the letter, Dacy requested a written description of events from the meeting where the firings occurred and all financial and management records. The letter also requested that Landfall take no further action pertaining to the management.

"They have been reasonable and cooperative," Dacy said. "The county HRA has a fiduciary responsibility to make sure stability of the park is maintained."

Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib

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