MALTA – Water was restored to residents of the Malta Gardens mobile home park last week after some residents went 11 days without service and a boil water advisory was lifted Sunday according to spokesman Ron Simoncini.
Simoncini, spokesman for property managers the Solomon Organization, updated the Town Board on the situation at Malta Gardens during Monday’s agenda meeting.
Many residents of Malta Gardens and Malta Pointe apartments lost water on New Year’s Day. Some residents had spotty water service while others were left without water until its full restoration on Thursday, Jan. 11. A boil water advisory was in effect for 21 days.
During the outage the Solomon Organization provided 2 gallons of bottled water per day to residents and provided locations for residents to use showers.
A large number of residents turned up at the Jan. 8 Town Board meeting to complain about what they described as unsanitary conditions at Malta Gardens and to demand answers.
The Town Board informed residents that it had little power in the situation on private property but pushed management to provide answers and solutions to the problem.
Town Code enforcement officers were sent to the property over the lack of adequate water quantity and pressure as required by the state Property Maintenance Code. A citation was issued requiring that Malta Gardens provide adequate water by Jan. 23.
Simoncini was present at the Jan. 8 board meeting where he informed residents of the Solomon Organization’s commitment to restoring water service and his plan to attend Monday’s meeting to offer additional information.
According to Simoncini the outage was caused by a combination of freezing pipes at the mobile home complex and the response by residents who left faucets running to prevent freezing, which lead to a loss in water pressure.
The situation was originally thought to be caused by a water main break, but repair crews only found small leaks in some individual lines, not in any of the water mains on site.
The Solomon Organization provided repairs to 91 of the 390 mobile homes at Malta Gardens to restore full water service at the company’s expense. Repairs included work on 15 frozen sewer lines, installation of thermal tape on 24 units, thermal rod installation for 15 units, repair to eight water risers and work on 10 broken pipes.
Simoncini estimated the cost of repairs for the mobile homes between $55,000 and $70,000, noting that none of these repairs were to property of the Solomon Organization.
“None of the repairs I just described are repairs that we are technically responsible for. If you understand how a mobile home works, the pad is something that we lease with infrastructure in the pad. When you attach to that infrastructure, whatever you attach to it is the responsibility of the resident,” Simoncini said.
These needed repairs contributed to the loss in water at the mobile home park. To prevent further issues Simoncini said that Solomon would be issuing a letter to residents in September informing them of the equipment condition standards and requirements for mobile homes at the park.
Mobile homes will then be inspected in October to ensure their compliance with these requirements, potentially leading to fines for residents issued by Solomon as outlined in their lease agreements.
“No one could bear this again both financially and in terms of practical issues,” Simoncini said. “Bad on us for not insisting that our lease was followed to the ‘T’ in past years, we’re going to do that in the future.”
“We can’t afford to have the whole complex go down because some of the mobile home park residents don’t maintain their property,” he said.
There are also plans to offer residents affected by the outage some form of compensation that has yet to be determined based on how long they were without water service.
“We made over 90 repairs to stuff that is not our property at a cost that will approach $70,000,” Simoncini said. “We’re not passing any of that along. We do have a case to be made for that, but not only are we not passing any of that along, we’re also compensating. We’re giving the olive branch out.”
To prevent further issues, Solomon has contracted consultants to determine if additional wells are needed on the property or if the company should consider connecting to a private water company.
The mobile home park is currently serviced by six wells on site that transfer water to homes through eight miles of underground pipes. Simoncini previously questioned the status of the park’s water infrastructure but said Monday that maintenance crews had found the system to be in overall good condition.
Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia cautioned Simoncini against drilling additional wells on site, questioning the quality and quantity of water that the wells provide.
“The aquifer can only handle so much,” DeLucia added.
Simoncini said that the wells are monitored daily by maintenance staff and they perform well in both quantity and quality.
To address any further water outages in the short term, Solomon is seeking vendors who would be able to transport tanks of water to the park for use by residents.
The Town Board pushed Simoncini to provide a timeline for when these solutions would be put in place.
Simoncini said that he would provide a note to the board regarding the company’s progress within 30 days and a direction for action would be determined within 60 days.
DeLucia thanked the Town Board for their efforts to address the situation.
“I think we really did quite a bit to help the folks out in Malta Gardens and Malta Pointe within our legal constraints,” DeLucia said. “There’s only so much we can do so I hope the folks down there understand that.”