As residents face eviction, mobile home park seeks new ownership

Chad Frey
A mobile home park in the 700 block of W. Seventh owned Derek Walden under the company name Cornerstone Home Buyers, no longer being operated with a liscense. The city of McPherson sought an injunction closing the facility in district court. Residents have until Sept. 25 to find another place to live.

In the 700 block of W. First Street of McPherson stands a sign — handmade out of a sheet of plywood. Scrawled across the white surface in black letters is “[Expletive] You McPherson.”

It is a message from the people living in a mobile home park at 707 W Seventh, a property owned by Derek Walden under the company name Cornerstone Home Buyers, L.L.C. The company is no longer operable.

The mobile home park has fallen into a state of disrepair, and after years of code violations the city filed for an injunction in district court — that injunction has led to eviction notices to be served on the park’s residences.

“The purchase of the park was the result of the actions of a young, proud and naïve man. And I apologise (sic) my inattentiveness has forced the city’s hand,” Walden wrote in a letter to city legal counsel dated Aug. 27 and provided to The Sentinel by David N. Harger of Wise $ Reber L.C.

According to an injunction filed by the city legal team, Walden has not held the license required to operate the park since December of 2016. In addition, Walden and residents were warned or cited for nuisance and code violations no less than seven times since 2018. Those violations included dangerous and unfit structures “wich do not meet minimum standards for human habilitity,” according to the court finding.

The injunction filing, singed Aug. 24 in district court reads “Defendants Conerstone Home Buyers, L.C.C and Derek Waldent, despite countless warnings, violation notices, and demands for abatement, unlawfully unlawfully operate property in the Ciyt of McPherson …. As an unlicensed mobile home park, and with the occupants of the property, have allowed, caused, created, perpetuated and maintained an unlawful nuisance on the property, all in violation of McPherson City Code and zoning ordinances.”

The legal filing cites piles of trash that reappear as quickly as they are cleaned up, a resident operating a vehicle repair shop against zoning regulations, storage of inoperable vehicles and the disrepair of the homes located within the park.

Harger did not speak on the record with the Sentinel.

With photos an illustrations stripped out of the document, the Sentinel was supplied with a 24-page injunction filing.

The city also forbade Walden from taking on new tenants or collecting rent. The city has forced Walden to refund one tenant whose rent was paid through December.

Residents of the property have until Sept. 25 to move out of the mobile home park, about 30 days after the injunction was signed by district court judge John Klenda.

“The City understands that if the requested relief is granted, occupants of the property may

be displaced. The City has asked the court to allow appropriate time for occupants to

remove their belongings and find alternative living arrangements without having to pay

rent. Information about resources available in the community to ease the burden of

displacement will be provided to the occupants of the property,” the city wrote in a statement Aug. 28.

“My intention is to not contest the action taken by the City of McPherson. I take full responsibility,” Walden wrote.

Walden wrote he hopes to sell the property for $97,000. He claims that since taking ownership of the facility he has taken out a second mortgage on his own home in order to repair sewer lines in the facility. He suggested conversion of the park to an RV facility.

“As a father of [six] children including one adopted son and two foster children with obligations to my real estate sales business and Air National Guard, it's clear my time of ownership and management is over,” Walden wrote. “It's time for another to own with more means for investment and development.”

Owners and residents of a mobile home park at 707 W. Seventh Street in McPherson have been cited for code violations at least seven times in two years. The city sought an injunction effectively closing the facility in district court, which was signed nearly one month ago.