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Post date: June 5 2009

Attorney General Cuomo Announces Settlement To Clean Up Hazardous And Unsanitary Conditions At Steuben County Mobile Home Park

ALBANY, NY (June 5, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement to clean up dangerous and unsanitary conditions at the Riverside Mobile Home Park in the Town of Cameron in Steuben County.

Violations at the park, which is also known as Cameron Valley Estates, included contaminated drinking water, electrical and fire safety hazards, and multiple abandoned and unsafe structures. About a dozen families currently live in the park including residents that are elderly, disabled, or otherwise rely on a fixed income.

“As this mobile home park fell into disrepair from years of neglect, these residents had no choice but to endure dangerous and unsanitary conditions because they could not afford - or were unable - to leave,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This owner failed to provide residents with the very basic necessities, like clean water and safe living conditions. This settlement holds him accountable for cleaning up dangerous and unsanitary conditions and ensures that residents will not be forced to live under such deplorable circumstances.”

Since purchasing the park in 2005, owner Adam G. Mermelstein and his corporation, Cameron Valley Estates Corp., have been cited by the State Health Department for numerous and repeated violations of the Public Health Law.

The violations included:

  • Bacteria, iron, and manganese in the mobile home park’s drinking water that exceeded state health standards.
  • Extended periods when residents had no water, or low-water pressure.
  • Multiple electrical code violations at several sites, creating serious electrocution and fire safety hazards.
  • Numerous unoccupied, dilapidated structures, posing a safety risk and a risk of infestation by rodents and vermin.

The Attorney General's settlement requires Mermelstein to pay $45,000 into a “Performance Assurance Fund” that will be administered by the Attorney General’s office, in cooperation with the State Health Department, to correct the violations at the park by October 2009. Mermelstein is also ordered to pay $11,100 in civil penalties. In addition, the court settlement requires Mermelstein to pay restitution to families who might be displaced as a result of corrective actions taken at the park.

Chairman of the Steuben County Legislature Phillip Roche said, “The dangerous and unsanitary conditions endured by the residents of this mobile home park will now be remedied thanks to the intervention of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Our primary concern is maintaining a safe environment for the people of Steuben County, and today's announcement should serve as a warning to other owners - properties in dangerous disrepair will not go unnoticed by the authorities.”

Mark H. Wattenberg, Attorney with Southern Tier Legal Services said, “The Attorney General went all out to fight for the rights of the tenants of the mobile home park to decent and safe living conditions. Many of these tenants are poor people, whose only asset is their mobile home, which often cannot be moved. It is great to know that in every corner of the state, the Attorney General will stand up for the rights of tenants.”

The settlement announced today was handled in the Attorney General's office by Assistant Attorney General Jane Cameron of the Environmental Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Michael Myers and Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy. The Department of Health’s Hornell District Office also assisted in the investigation and litigation.