Internal Revenue Service sells mobile home park to residents |

Internal Revenue Service sells mobile home park to residents

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

Tenants of Lockwood Mobile Home Park in northern Storey County are getting a very special gift today: the deed to their park.

The land was one of several seized by the Internal Revenue Service in 1999 after the 56-acre property’s owners, A.G.E. Corp., were convicted of 21 counts of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. Nevada brothel owner Joe Conforte owned the land before the corporation took control of it.

Since the criminal convictions, ownership of the property and the future of Lockwood residents have been in limbo.

In an effort to save their homes and way of life, park tenants formed the Lockwood Community Corp. Edna Cudworth, 62, president of the organization, said most residents are retired and disabled and could not afford to relocate.

“Many would have been homeless,” she said. “No parks take old trailers, and they don’t have the money to pay high rents. They wouldn’t have had anyplace to go.

“From now on, we control our own destiny,” she said. “These people will be able to save the homes they’ve worked for …”

“We got a very wonderful Christmas present,” said Lockwood resident Kathy Denham. “It means I can grow roots, probably spend the rest of my life here.”

Residents have paid about $187,000 in rent to the Internal Revenue Service since the property was seized three years ago. That money was accepted as partial payment for the park, but residents must come up with the balance: $12,000.

Under the plan, residents will continue to own their own mobile homes, which are about 10 miles east of Reno. The land, water and sewer systems, and 12 apartments will be owned by the corporation, operating as a cooperative. Residents will pay a monthly fee for operating expenses and to pay the debt for acquisition and improvements to the property.

Eileen Piekarz, a development specialist with the Rural Community Assistance Corp., said each resident will buy a membership in the new co-op. Western Nevada Home Consortium has committed to a low-interest loan for the project, but more challenges await the community of about 178. The park’s water and sewer systems are old and need an overhaul.

“The water and septic systems will be funded separately and will cost between $600,000 and $1.3 million,” Piekarz said. “We’re working to develop the financing, hopefully through some grants and low-interest loans. This is a huge challenge, and it’s going to be done gradually over several years.”

The park will preserve 40 percent of its housing for households with incomes of less than 50 percent of the local median income. Another 31 units will be reserved for residents with incomes less than 80 percent of the local mean.

U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden, whose office prosecuted the case, said he couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

“This action benefits the citizens of Nevada and is a fine example of what can be accomplished when the private interests and federal government work hand-in-hand,” he said. “I’d like to thank all those individuals, agencies and elected officials who assisted in the negotiation of this contract. It’s an achievement that should be commended.”