A new look and new life for a 60-year-old trailer park has caught the eye of Walter Arnette, board of aldermen president, who is now calling for special recognition for the owner.
The five-unit park at the corner of Central and Olive streets contains four repainted trailers and a small home that has new siding. All of the exteriors are tan with white windows and doors. The trailers have sienna red shutters.
“This is a great example of paint-up, fix-up,” Arnette said.
The renovation is a family story that goes back more than 60 years. The late Doug Bell bought the small park in the 1950s and in recent years hired a management firm to run it.
It turns out that the impetus for the renovation of the park wasn’t damage from the 2008 flood that inundated the area around the park and it wasn’t the current cleanup, fix-up campaign being waged by the city.
It was plain old Bell family pride.
When Bell became discouraged that not enough care was being taken of the trailers, he turned to his son Steve’s wife, Joyce, to take over park management, saying someone had to take charge to make it look better.
“Joyce, you’re the one,” Bell said.
Joyce Bell would spend the next four years rehabbing each unit, providing most of the labor herself.
“I’m a farm girl and a hard worker,” Bell said. “Plus I watched my father and brothers work and learned how to do things the right way. Even now, my brothers Mark and Glen Tobben provide the labor on the jobs that are too big for me. They’re my rocks.”
As the new manager, Bell stripped interior bathrooms, installed new tubs, sinks, vanities and windows, repaired ceilings and ripped out and replaced floors throughout each trailer.
“We checked the gas, water and sewer lines to make sure everything was up to snuff and nothing leaks,” she said. “We replaced damaged cabinets, and any stoves and refrigerators that were not working.”
Bell also insulated the underneath of the trailers and installed new skirts.
“She completely re-did the interiors, even new floors. They’re like new inside,” said Roger Burtenshaw, who rents the trailer at 129 S. Olive. “They do look good, don’t they.”
When Doug Bell died in November 2012, Joyce and her husband Steve inherited the park.
“Steve does all the paperwork and handles the rentals,” Bell laughs. “I’m the laborer.”
Arnette said regardless of why the Bell family did such a complete makeover, the renovation of the park is what officials have been calling for in the cleanup, fix-up campaign.
“Since the city is encouraging residents to clean up and dress up their property, we should pay attention when they do,” Arnette said.
Speaking at the Sept. 17 board meeting, Arnette said the renovation has made a large impact on the entire neighborhood and has proved that a trailer park can be a lot more attractive than previously thought.
“The place has been completely transformed,” he said. “This is a real cleanup job. She deserves recognition for doing this.”
“The compliments are nice to hear,” Bell said, “but this is a family property and we want it to look nice.”