Something’s rotten in Lakeshore
Dead fish causing a stink in mobile home community
Things are rolling and churning in the Lakeshore Estates Mobile Home Community. Residents banded together to confront the trailer park management and its case is under investigation by the Attorney General. The Lakeshore Improvement group began meeting regularly and has provided updates to the quorum court on progress in the unincorporated subdivision West of Interstate 55 and sandwiched between West Memphis and Marion. The neighborhood continued stirring with three events this week.
Fish in the lake wee dying en masse, selected stretches of streets were being overlaid by pavers under county contract, and a community water report was received and rejected by the improvement group. It all seemed like one step forward and two steps back to residents.
The lake turning over with dead fish has happened every few years. The stench can be smelled from vehicles traveling near the lake even with the windows rolled up.
“It’s really gross,” said resident Cheri Davis of the odor.
The shallow lake is rectangular shape and was mined for fill dirt when the adjacent Interstate highways were first built. Later the trailer park community sprung up around the waters edge. The lake averaged four feet in depth and when the summer temps heated the water, overburdened with fish, the oxygen levels drop killing fish.
Few people fish the lake because no one knows if is healthy.
Resident Chris Chambliss thought oxygenation would prevent the fish turnover and repeated a suggestion that has come up as often as the fish carcasses. The group tried to get two power boats into the lake to churn oxygen into the water even as the fish began floating belly up.
“A big fountain in the lake may provide enough oxygen for the lake not to turn over so much,” said Chambliss. “Then you could put some lights on the fountain and that would be real nice.”
Lakeshore Improvement Group organizer Cassy Bretherick pointed to trailer park manager Joel “Buddy” Burgos. She posted his phone number on social media and asked for residents to raise a stink.
“We’ve tried for years, but Mr. Burgos won’t allow it,” said Bretherick.
Bretherick notified the EPA, ADEQ, Fish and Game and the Attorney General. The group spokeswoman considered the fish overpopulation and thought fishing would reduce the risk for turning over the fish. Worries abound about the fish being safe to eat.
Rumors of junk cars, and the pollution from batteries and automotive fluids elevate concerns. Residents in the community have in the past used the lake for an illegal dump as well. Concerns about inflow from the aged sewer system added to concern as well. As a a result, few people ever fish the lake.
“I’m trying to raise money to get it tested,” said Bretherick. “Anyone want to buy a T-shirt?”
A paving crew rolled into the mobile home community Wednesday afternoon, just before the school buses were scheduled to bring children home. Because of the road, work students sat stranded on the buses coming home an hour late from school. Everyone was for the paving but it created an obstacle for busing
Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Finally, Bretherick received
a drinking water report she claimed was filled with outdated and erroneous information. She openly questioned the veracity of the report and sent a reply to the attorney general adding to the allegations against the trailer park manager. She said only a few people received a copy, something that every water customer should be sent annually. She noted an outdated map with old street names and previous residents names at the addresses of the handful of 2017 water tap tests.
“I called the West Memphis water department and asked how a community drinking water test was done,” said Bretherick.
“They said you take samples from the tap in the house. How can you do that if there is no house on the lot and the water has been disconnected for years?”
In all six sites that were reported as tested, only one had a resident who stated no one had been by to test the water according to Bretherick’s 17 page reply to the attorney general.
Some of the lots have stood vacant for a long time or were undeveloped altogether.
By John Rech