POWNAL — While tenants of Pownal Estates Mobile Home Park continue to struggle with low water pressure — and sometimes with no water at all coming from their faucets — relief could be on the way.
Gov. Phil Scott and the state Agency of Natural Resources announced Wednesday grant awards totaling $12.6 million that will go toward repair and replacement of water systems in mobile home parks, including three in the Bennington area.
The Pownal Estates park, formerly called Alta Gardens Mobile Home Park and located at the intersection of Routes 7 and 346, will receive $657,090 for technical assistance, permitting and construction of the park water system, which is fed from a well on the property.
Residents of Pownal Estates, which has approximately 50 home lots, have complained for several years about the system. They said it often failed or provided low water pressure, sometimes prompting do-not-drink notices from health officials.
The park was purchased in late 2021 from owner Mark Garrity by Patriot Holdings, which promised upgrades to the water system, park roads and other maintenance. They said last summer that they were slowly making progress but dealing with park maintenance work that “was highly neglected” in the past.
Park ownership officials, who are based in New Hampshire, could not be reached Wednesday about plans for use of the grant and a timetable for the system upgrades.
Also in Pownal, Royal Pine Villa on Jackson Cross Road was awarded a state grant of $854,251 for similar work in that mobile home park. Park owners could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
And in Bennington, a $233,874 grant was announced by the governor for the Willows Mobile Home Park, for construction improvements to its stormwater management and drainage system.
‘WE’RE HUMAN BEINGS’
Patricia Gates, of Sunflower Street in the park, said water issues have been ongoing since late last year and worsened during the recent days of frigid weather, which caused water line freeze-ups.
She said her water faucets produce only “a trickle” when there is water, and there is not enough pressure for the shower.
The park has supplied bottled water but not as much as needed by residents.
As for recent water line repair work, Gates said, “It’s just putting Band-Aids on something that is not fixing the actual problem.”
She is hopeful the grant funding will lead to a better system but also wonders how long a major system upgrade will take.
“We are decent people; we are still human beings, and we need to be respected,” she said.
Gates is a licensed nurse assistant, working full time, and most residents are employed.
“You know, we’re not trash, and I feel that people look at us because we live in a trailer park,” she said, “but no one wants to help people who live in a trailer park, because they have labeled us.”
Charles Osgood, who lives on Chickadee Drive in Pownal Estates, said the well water pump has a history of breakdowns and the water system lines “keep getting patched, but they keep breaking, they’re so old.”
He said his pressure is too low to take a shower, and when containers are filled from the slow-running faucets, the water is rusty. He said the park periodically supplies bottled water to residents but has not been keeping up with the need.
Osgood said the system’s water lines are buried about 4 feet below the surface, and he believes they date to the 1950s. The park — and the adjacent Green Mountain Mobile Home Park — flourished during the period of horse racing at the nearby former Green Mountain Race Track site.
Green Mountain Mobile Home Park is served by the Pownal Fire District 2 water system in the south Pownal area.
Horse racing meets were held at Green Mountain Race Track from its opening in 1961 though the mid-1970s, when the track shifted to greyhound racing, which produced far fewer jobs. The track closed for good in 1991, and in recent years conditions in the two parks have deteriorated.
Pownal Select Board liaison Rebecca Dragon said Wednesday that town officials have repeatedly responded to resident complaints about the water system and other issues and have been in contact with several state officials, including about the availability of grant funding.