Taxpayers could pay close to $1 million for Life O’Riley debts

(WLNS) – Complaints of sewage, no working water and crumbling infrastructure led to 200 people being forced out of their homes, and debts owed by owner William Whalen LLC continue to grow.

Between expenses for relocating families and the cost to tear down the structures, the cost burdened onto taxpayers adds up to more than $1 million, according to city officials.

After complaints spanning more than two years, Life O’ Riley Mobile Home Park was condemned in 2014, leaving hundreds of people without a home.

“They weren’t fit for human habitation,” City of Lansing Human Relations Director Joan Jackson Johnson said.

Johnson worked alongside other local agencies to move the families out over a ten day span. She says the cost of hotels, meals and other costs tallied up a price tag around half a million dollars.

“This came from your tax dollars, my tax dollars, the county provided some money to help us with this,” Jackson Johnson explained.

Since then, she says the debt owed by the owner has continued to grow, from city and county taxes, to utility costs, and now the cost to clean up the mess.

“It’s a blight on the neighborhood, there’s no questioning that,” Lansing Director of Planning and Neighborhood Development Bob Johnson said.

The families who lived in these homes weren’t the only people affected by Life O’Riley.

“Now we’re here to take care of the neighborhood.”

After taking bids from 13 construction companies following the court approval, the city will select one in the next few days to tear it all down.

That will cost at least another $150,000, but could run as high as $400,000.

“I would say that this is going to be a vast improvement”.

Johnson says once everything is demolished, it will sit vacant for the next year, until the county can foreclose on the land. That’s unless the owner suddenly decides to pay the more than $1 million he owes to reclaim the property.

6 News made several calls to various numbers to get owner Bill Whalen’s side of the story. We left messages, but we did not hear back from him.

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