EVICTION LEAVES RESIDENTS SEARCHING FOR SHELTER ONE FILES SUIT AGAINST TRIBE TO KEEP HOME
South Florida Sun - Sentinel; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Dec 1, 2000;
Across the street from empty lots heaped with cinder block and ash, an immaculate white mobile home held its ground in the Candlelight Mobile Home and RV Park. One of several signs perched out front read "We're not moving! We're going to court!"
But Thursday afternoon, the last day the Seminole Indian Tribe had said it would permit residents in the park, that home and most of the scattering of homes left appeared empty. Still there were a few residents, gathering their things, readying to leave the park near State Road 7 and Stirling Road.
Up marched attorney Louis St. Laurent to Bob Pierce's place, a notice of an emergency hearing in his hand. Circuit Court Judge Patricia Cocalis had granted the hearing to be held at 10 a.m. today after St. Laurent filed a motion Thursday. It stated in part that some residents had not been able to make the deadline to move their homes after only 65 days notice.
The Seminoles plan to build a $300 million casino and hotel at the site.
"They're still throwing us out of here, regardless, right?" asked Pierce. Not necessarily St. Laurent told him.
But Pierce, 51, still planned to move the next day, when movers had arranged to pick up the trailer he had bought from another resident who had left it behind. After sinking his "last penny" into the new trailer and its $15,000 relocation, the recently laid-off Pierce preferred another part of St. Laurent's motion. As in a lawsuit filed Nov. 15, it claims the Seminoles must pay compensation because they did not give 12 months notice as specified by state law.
The Seminole tribe has said they acted within the law and that residents have known for three years that residency was only granted on a temporary basis. No one from the tribe could be reached for comment Thursday.
Down the street from Pierce, Jack Pierson said he would stay longer if the judge allowed it. Until he retires in January, Pierson, 67 said he'll be commuting to his teaching job at Hollywood Hills High School from a condominium he owns in Fort Myers.
Five years ago, Frances "Cookie" Chatterton paid $22,000 for her mobile home. She recently sold it for $1,100 and had to borrow from her children and sister to put down $500 on a new home in another park, she said.
"I bought it under duress," she said, taking a break from supervising movers who had cost her another $300. Two days ago, she went to see the home and noticed the floor was sinking.
With her deposit lost, and under threat of being sued for backing out, Chatterson, 57, prepared to move in with her best friend until she could figure something else out.
"It's heartbreaking," she said, and then she started to cry.