MOSCOW, Idaho — Planned changes will hopefully prevent a rundown and infamous trailer park outside of Moscow from becoming a public health hazard, according to Latah County leaders.
Despite shutting down and residents being ordered out in 2018, county leaders say people have continued to dump garbage at the Syringa Mobile Home Park off of Robinson Park Road. The problem first began when the park became vacant, but has since persisted said Sheriff Richie Skiles.
"I've seen some mattresses dumped in there. They're big and bulky," said Skiles on Thursday.
"Old washers and dryers, dishwashers, whatever that doesn't work. A refrigerator," listed the Sheriff of other items that have been found at Syringa.
Skiles emphasized that his main concern was regarding household trash containing food and other items that have continued to accumulate at the vacant park. In addition to posing potential health hazards, Skiles said that the garbage could attract wildlife.
A KREM 2 crew spotted several bags of trash at Syringa on Thursday, including garbage bags filled with diapers. Multiple trailers had broken out windows and were vandalized.
In 2018, Syringa's then-owner agreed to pay residents thousands of dollars after leaving them without clean water for months. The water outage occurred from late 2013 into the spring of 2014. That same year, a class action lawsuit was filed against Magar Magar, the former owner.
The park subsequently became tied up in bankruptcy and residents were given notice to leave in mid 2018. According to Skiles, final residents left the park in fall 2018.
Since Syringa is technically private property, Skiles said that coordinating trash removal has been somewhat challenging at times. The bankruptcy trustee in charge of the park, however, has been good to work with and was been on board with suggestions from county leaders, said Skiles. The trustee is not located in the Moscow area, he said.
"I would think that [the trash] would have been taken care of by now and somebody would have done something with it. But we have to realize it's tied up in the court system. And sometimes that takes a while," said the sheriff.
This month, the county announced that the bankruptcy trustee had agreed to place barriers, cables, and new "no trespassing" signs at the entrance of Syringa in an effort to deter illegal dumping. The bankruptcy estate would also pay for cleanup costs associated with removing household trash from the property.
"Latah County greatly appreciates our partnership with the bankruptcy trustee and will continue with our best efforts to ensure that Syringa does not become a public health hazard," said Latah County prosecutor Bill Thompson in a statement.
Other issues have previously kept Skiles and his deputies busy at the park. In 2018, authorities received reports of looters making their way through trailers. Since the park became vacant, Skiles added that his office has removed four people squatting in some of the empty trailers.
"We chased some [people] out that were from California, even, passing through there," said Skiles.
Skiles had previously increased patrols at Syringa and vowed that his deputies would continue to check the property.
An immediate timeline regarding the placement of barriers at the park's entrance wasn't immediately available. Thompson did say that the county would facilitate the cleanup of garbage "as soon as conditions allow."
Skiles said that, to his knowledge, the long term plan for Syringa involved the removal of trailers from the property. He wasn't aware of any specifics or timelines from the trustee, though.
"It's going to cost money to clean up," Skiles said. "It's going to cost money to clean up."