Big Oaks Estates on Veterans Memorial Boulevard is a tree-covered community with a swimming pool, playground, mobile homes and RV rental sites.
The mobile home park appears to be well maintained, unlike others in the city limits that are filled with rundown homes and unkempt lots.
The city has taken steps to bring all mobile home parks up to higher standards by doing an inventory of the parks and inspecting for code violations.
The inventory is the first step in a citywide beautification effort, City Manager Steve Carpenter said.
“In the last year or two, more people are concerned about the appearance of the city,” Carpenter said. “I have really put an emphasis on making the city more attractive. We have to set a certain standard, and to go up to another standard, we have to take it to code enforcement and put the information out there.”
Big Oaks Property Manager Peggy McDonald does not have a problem with the city inspecting her lots and thinks the inventory could help her business if it forces others to fix up their properties.
“I have a couple of (mobile home parks) around me that give the mobile home community a bad name,” she said.
Barry Cryer, owner of Star Estates on South Amy Lane, agrees with McDonald. He and his wife, Barbara, bought the mobile home park in April 2011.
Since then, they’ve worked closely with the city and “gone great distances” to clean up their park, he said.
“I have heard stories about other parks, that the houses are dangerous. There’s always room for improvement, we just all need to play nice together.”
The Cryers want to expand their business and purchase other mobile home parks in Heights.
“Anything we can do to make this area more attractive, we want to do it,” Cryer said.
Carpenter said the city could have done a better job with code enforcement in the past, but he’s taken steps to correct that problem.
In November, an additional building inspector was hired to free up other building officials to work more closely with the code enforcement staff.
Besides mobile home parks, the city will look at other problematic code enforcement areas, such as outside storage and landscaping, Carpenter said.
He also foresees a beautification committee and educational program in the city’s future, which he thinks are keys to changing people’s attitudes toward their own properties.
“If you and I were sitting in a room and there was a pile of Coke cans in the floor, we’d probably throw our empty cans there, too. But neither of us would throw an empty can on a clean floor. Changing behavior … that will take a while.”