Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Go-Ahead Given to Clear Site, Build Bookstore Hilltop Park Residents Protest Upheaval from Their Homes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Go-Ahead Given to Clear Site, Build Bookstore Hilltop Park Residents Protest Upheaval from Their Homes

Article excerpt

Crestwood aldermen gave preliminary approval Tuesday night to a plan to clear a residential area and build a bookstore.

The plan calls for clearing Hilltop Mobile Home Park, which has been at 9618 Watson Road for more than 40 years, and building Barnes & Noble, a bookstore that would occupy 32,000 square feet.

The developer, LaSala-Sonnenberg Reality in Overland Park, Kan., said his company wants to begin construction by April 1 and open the store before Christmas, said a spokesman Kevin Fritzpatrick.

To accommodate that schedule, about 40 residents of the area must move out fast. A letter from a Crestwood law firm, Patton and Miller, was dated Dec. 23, the last working day before Christmas, and notified the residents they had about 30 days to move.

The letter says that residents may obtain extensions for up to 60 more days, but only if they sign an agreement giving the trailer park's owners the authority to move the trailers if they remain on the property after the 60-day period. The law firm represents the estate of Shirley Fullmer, who operated the trailer park before her death in November.

Fullmer's heirs, who live in Arizona, inherited the trailer park through a living trust, says attorney Kenneth L. Miller. But the trailer park's bank accounts, which were not part of the living trust, are being held up in probate court in DuPage County, Ill., pending the settlement of the rest of the estate.

As a result, Miller says, there is little money available to help residents with moving expenses or enough money to make improvements in the property.

The heirs intend to close the trailer park as quickly as possible, regardless of whether the deal with the bookstore goes through, Miller said.

Those arrangements have left a number of trailer-park residents angry. About 100 people packed Crestwood's aldermanic chambers Tuesday night, and many of them came to ask for help from Crestwood.

Mayor Pat Killoren told them that Crestwood had nothing to do with what happened to the residents and was powerless to help them.

"As much as we hate what's happening, or would like to see other things happening, we can't address that," Killoren said.

State law barred Crestwood from considering the fate of the residents when deciding on the developer's plans and limited the scope of the discussion to a set of five factors, she said. …

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