By Anne Thom
Dustin Brakemeier, the new owner of the Sunrise Estates Mobile Home Park introduced himself at the recent Stacy City Council meeting.
The Brakemeier family closed on the purchase of the park on May 1. Brakemeier, his father and siblings, have been in the park business for 39 years. They also own and manage apartment complexes.
Mayor Mark Utecht said, “Welcome to the city, we don’t want that land vacant we want that land used. If there is something the city can help with please come to us.”
“As far as what the future holds for the park, it’s going to stay a park,” Brakemeier said. The first priority has been to assess the property.
He plans to bring in more homes as currently out of 61 lots, one third are vacant.
Brakemeier and his staff will begin inspecting homes for water leaks and he will begin installing water meters in each home. When the property changed hands, the water bill traveled with it. “Right now, I figure the water bill is about 40 percent higher than it should be,” Brakemeier said.
As incentive to residents to pitch in, Brakemeier plans to cover up to the first $75 of any repair bill presented to a resident. They will place a water meter on each home with a reader. They plan to install heat tape to prevent frozen pipes.
“There should be no more problems with people running water in the winter to keep their pipes from freezing,” Brakemeier said.
Brakemeier holds a water operator’s license. He exchanged water quality tips with City Engineer Chuck Schwartz and the council. Schwartz asked if the city could now come in and search for missing water shut-offs. He is willing to offer assistance to improve flushing of the water lines.
The meter system will be private and each homeowner will receive a separate bill. Brakemeier asked if the city would be interested in taking over the new meters and the billing, but the council and City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer are not willing to commit to this plan yet.
Brakemeier said this individual meter-individual property billing system is exactly as he handles water in the other two parks the family owns. Brakemeier himself goes door-to-door and reads the meters. He said it gives him a better feel for what is going on in the park.
Mayor Utecht said, “In the past, the park hasn’t had the best reputation as far as anything illegal going on over there.” He pledged to support Brakemeier in improving the quality of life for all city residents. Brakemeier has met with the Minnesota Department of Health over unresolved issues.
He said, “I know what needs to be done and I know there’s a lot of things they haven’t covered that I want covered.” Brakemeier described his job as being to keep a safe, reputable living area that maintains property values for residents.
He said he expects park rules should be more stringent than city code, and he will partner with code enforcement and city staff to resolve problems.
Councilor Cindy Bruss, a park resident, mentioned there are many properties that need repair. Brakemeier agreed and took that a step further, saying there a number of units “that need to go to the landfill.” He said he saw a dozen vacant units, half of those are “destroyed.”
Brakemeier employs a crew of 10. The Brakemeiers and their staff will start installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors “for anyone who will let me in.”
City Clerk Sharon Payne asked if Brakemeier has been allowed inside of the garages in the park. She felt if those were cleaned out the park would be more presentable and marketable.
Attorney Grundhoefer was studying a map of the Sunrise Estates ball fields that the city is in the process of working to improve. Grundhoefer showed Brakemeier that the fence in left field is on mobile home park property. Grundhoefer said,” The city wants to make these improvements and we thought we’d talk to the mobile home park owner and here you are.”
Mayor Utecht said the city wants to spend money to improve the field. Brakemeier suggested the city also consider playground equipment for the kids in the mobile home park.
Schwartz mentioned the city is seeking money from the Minnesota Twins Community Fund program. He asked Brakemeier for permission to include in the grant the part of the field that sits on Brakemeier property. Previous owner Bill Ulven had donated the land for this park.
Councilor Bruss was positively giddy as she waved at Brakemeier and said, “We have a lot to talk about.”
Brakemeier is dispatching his staff to work in the park and caretaker Rueben Lopez will live onsite. Lopez has worked for Brakemeier for 16 years.
“It (the park) has really good people in it. They’re looking for more services; they want a nice place to live.” Brakemeier said of the Sunrise Mobile Home Park residents. “My goal is to provide the best housing I can for the least amount of money.”