By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – Aldermen voted 5-0 Tuesday to authorize negotiations to buy a trailer park that nearby residents say is an ongoing source of crime.
The city plans to replace it with a new headquarters for the city’s Light Gas & Water Department.
Rest Haven Trailer Park, also known as Eastview, fronts on East Bankhead Street and backs up to homes on Murrah Road. It contains 38 mobile homes and 20 motel units on a little more than seven acres.
Craig Baker was living at Rest Haven when he was charged with murder in the Dec. 5 shooting of school speech and hearing therapist Amanda Price and aggravated assault in the shooting of her football coach husband, Ron, at their Murrah Road home.
Ron Price was one of close to 100 people who crowded into the Magnolia Civic Center before aldermen moved the meeting to the Cine Theatre next door.
Police Chief David Grisham did not advocate for or against the purchase, but he confirmed the trailer park is a continual source of trouble.
“We have a lot of domestic problems there, a lot of drug problems, just as we do in other parts of the town where you have an area concentrated in low-income rental property,” he said.
One Murrah Road landowner said at various times he had found three adults smoking in his haybarn, lost a horse to a gunshot and felt compelled to start carrying a gun for his own safety, while another resident on the road said she’d been victimized by a burglar and a peeping Tom, along with people walking around her yard at night.
Some residents said the city already has a shortage of affordable housing, but one property owner said he’d had low-rent property vacant for more than a year.
“I stay out there in Eastwood Trailer Park. It’s me, my husband, our four children and my father,” one woman said. “Everybody that stays out there does not do drugs. I try to stay to myself. When y’all tear it down or whatever, what are we supposed to do?”
Several people, including some aldermen, objected to the $710,000 asking price. Aldermen agreed to hold a special meeting Feb. 21 to decide whether to take further action.