Deadline nears for Life O'Riley demolition

Posted at 8:43 AM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 08:43:34-04

The for sale sign has been in Pat Ray's front yard for two years. He says only about 10 people have asked to see the place, and he knows why.

"There was one person, the realtor called about 10 minutes before there's supposed to be a showing and said they weren't interested," Ray said. "It was next to the Life O'Riley trailer park, forget it, they didn't even show."

He looks across his property at the rundown park with 80 derelict trailers on it. The property has been vacant since February 2014, when the Ingham County Health Department made everyone move out because of health and safety hazards.

"I'd say that, oh, 80 percent of the trailers in there, or better, don't have all the glass in place on them," Ray says as he walks the edge of his property, looking in to Life O'Riley. He points out other signs of the sad state of the park, like tree limbs that have fallen into trailers, broken porches, trash, and vandalism.

"The trailer park's always been there, but it's been sitting for two years and three months," Ray said. The city of Lansing gave owner William Whalen of Whalen RE Holdings of Lansing, MI LLC two years to make necessary changes to bring the property up to code, and those two years run up on June 18.

"June 18 is fast approaching, and the conditions out there are deplorable," Bob Johnson, Director of the Lansing Department of Planning and Neighborhood Development, said. "Once the suspension is no longer, and the license is revoked, that's when the city goes into full-steam-ahead mode dealing with the demolition activity."

Johnson says the city will clear out the trailers and then decide what to do with the land, but he foresees it becoming some kind of residential housing, like apartments.

"We will not be supporting another mobile home park," Johnson said. Or a campground. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero released a statement saying he does not support if the property owner requests to turn the whole plot of land into a camp site.

The city, instead, is preparing to take over the land, something Johnson called an inevitability.

Ray, having lived next to the land for 48 years, was also skeptical of the owner's ability to clean up the park in one month. "If they believe this outfit's going to change their spots, I'll sell them the Mackinac Bridge, I'm sure that they'd think that I owned it."