KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- The town is telling residents of the Sunset Mobile Home Park not to drink the park's water because of a high chlorine content, and in the meantime is pursuing enforcement action against the owner of the park, alleging he has violated water management agreements reached with the town in April.
Building and Health Inspector Kevin Goodhue said the notices were sent to the 11 occupied mobile homes. He said roughly 22 people live in the park. "We found levels of chlorine that were very high, so notices are going out today not to drink the water," he said Wednesday. The water is also not safe for bathing.
Goodhue said residents were told they should boil their water in September after two test samples came back with E. coli, an illness causing bacteria.
On April 4 the park's owner, John Bushee Jr., entered into an agreement with the town stipulating that he would install a chlorinator to the park's water system, among other things. Goodhue said Bushee does have a chlorinator but the problems with the water have continued.
Zoning Administrator Dan Monks said an enforcement action has been filed in Bennington Superior Court Civil Division against Bushee and a court date has been set for Nov. 8. Monks said he hopes an agreement can be reached with Bushee in the meantime.
"The issue is the town is not convinced that the system he has in place is capable of ensuring there's safe drink water there on a constant basis," said Monks.
"That's the key word, consistent," said Goodhue. "Now, with high levels of chlorine, it's still unsafe. We've gone from one extreme to the other extreme."
Goodhue said part of the April agreement involved Bushee supplying water to the park residents if needed, which he said has not been done. Bushee is also supposed to be testing the water himself. Goodhue said that appears to have been happening, but the reports have been late.
Bushee did not return calls seeking comment.
The town's involvement with Sunset park's water began last year. Some agreements were made between Bushee and the Board of Health, which is also the Select Board, but issued continued into January. The agreement reached in April said that Bushee would have the water up to acceptable safety standards by June 1. Between April and June he was to have the water tested monthly and use more critical tests if one came back positive for bacteria or other problem.