Residents of the Rushmore Mobile Home Park in Nampa have been struggling to get by on just one hour a water a day for weeks due to the park’s failing septic system.
Last week, city officials asked the park owner to make water available to residents at least five hours a day, improving living conditions and allowing residents to stay in their homes until April 17 — or until sewage appears on park grounds. If the system fails, residents will have to be out within a week.
“We’re running it five hours a day and hoping it does not saturate the field,” said Dean Leavitt, a 75-year-old retired school teacher/counselor who has owned the park for three decades. He did a peroxide flush on the system a couple of weeks ago in the hopes of increasing the capacity of the drain field.
Leavitt said he increased water availability on Saturday. Now residents can use it from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The mobile home park owner has said he cannot afford the cost of hooking into city sewer, so his only option is to close the park.
There are 17 houses at the park. Renters living in one house have moved out, and another is preparing to, Leavitt said. Eleven of the houses are owner-occupied, and some face thousands of dollars in rehabilitation costs to move the houses to a different park.
The Rushmore Mobile Home Park is part of a 4.7-acre parcel that Leavitt owns at Garrity and 39th Street. The property also includes an 11-unit motel that was converted into apartments, a two-bedroom house and six mobile homes.
Septic system issues at the mobile home park date back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to Brian Crawford, director of environmental health for Southwest District Health Department. The health district began doing annual visits to the mobile home park after sewage was found on the grounds in 2005.
The health department hadn’t heard any complaints since then — until Feb. 17, when a resident reported sewage on the ground. Crawford said the park owner pumped the septic tanks to buy some time to sort out whether there was any affordable longterm solution.
Nampa city officials handed out resource information to residents last week. The Salvation Army has offered to serve as a central location for donated goods and funds for the tenants. Items needed include paper or plastic plates and utensils, laundry soap, water bottles and hygiene kits. Items can be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 403 12th Ave., S., Nampa. Volunteers will be needed to help residents move.
Boise-based QBS Property Management is working with most of the park’s residents who own their own homes to relocate them to one of seven QBS-run parks. “We're basically just fronting the money ... and they'll pay us back a certain amount a month, added to their space rent,” Manager Michelle Gomez said last week. Those payments would be made over five years.