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Spruces Owners Drop Case Against Williamstown, State
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
05:00PM / Tuesday, August 07, 2012
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The owners of the Spruces Mobile Home Park have withdrawn their lawsuit against the town, state and residents.

According to Town Manager Peter Fohlin, the Aug. 9 hearing in Berkshire Superior Court has been canceled after Morgan Management dropped the case at the request of the town.

"The town and the residents of the Spruces have expended every effort to recover every home possible and to remove or secure those that are uninhabitable. These diligent efforts continue to effectively accomplish virtually everything meaningful requested in the motion for injunctive relief," Fohlin said in an email on Tuesday. "It would not be in the best interests of the Spruces residents to further pursue resolution in court."

Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the park last August and left some 300 residents homeless. Over the following months, residents slowly returned to the park as their homes were certified as habitable while others moved elsewhere. A majority of the park's 226 mobile homes could not be reoccupied.

The situation triggered heated debates between the town and the park's owners — each pointing the finger at one another as to why residents were unable to return to their homes. Even Gov. Deval Patrick called on both Morgan Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to "step up" and resolve the problems.

The company filed an injunction last November against the town, state attorney general's office and Spruces residents to bring the matter into court, which was expected to explicitly lay out the responsibilities of each party.

Morgan Management requested eight resolutions: halt further infrastructure work until a plan for the park's future was developed, residents 30 days to state their intentions, allow the company to take steps to consolidate the park, force residents living in uninhabitable homes out, have residents remove abandoned trailers in 30 days, reprieve from state pressures to take immediate action, have residents remove "non-ordinary trash" and any other order that would help the situation.

However, the case was delayed multiple times with the latest expected court date of Aug. 9. Now most of the items are no longer issues, according to Fohlin. As for the future of the park, Fohlin said the town has developed "a constructive and respectful relationship" with the owners to work out solutions together.

"The town and Morgan Management, along with the hold of the mortgage on The Spruces, have been in continuous good faith discussions about the future of the park and its residents," Fohlin said. "Our shared goal is safe, sanitary and secure housing out of harm's way and without worry for residents who continue to live in the Spruces or have been displaced by Tropical Storm Irene."

With the withdrawal, Fohlin said both the town and the company can devote more resources to the future rather than "costly litigation."

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