SYCAMORE – The residents of the 129-unit Evergreen Village Mobile Home Park in rural Sycamore will be relocated with the help of a $4.2 million grant DeKalb County received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday.
County administrator Ray Bockman said the neighborhood has been flooded repeatedly. The county began taking steps to buy the land in September 2007, after the area was flooded due to severe storms.
"It was identified in our hazard planning process as the No. 1 priority for DeKalb County," Bockman said.
In the past five years, the county has experienced severe floods that twice have required federal assistance – in September 2007 and October 2008.
Bockman was unable to say how many people would be moved out of the trailer park. The county plans to purchase the 129 homes in the affected area, which is in a flood plain, Bockman said.
The process will be slow, but is probably unstoppable. Bockman said the park's owner, Frank Santoro, is willing to sell to the county.
"I think once the rights to the business are acquired, it's only a matter of time before all the structures are acquired," Bockman said.
Because the residents will be displaced through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, they will have access to some very attractive benefits, Bockman said.
"The motivation of the project is public safety: Take people who are in harm's way and find them safer places to live," Bockman said. "That's what we're hoping to do."
Bockman said the process of buying all the land will not happen overnight. He was he was advised that it could take at least 18 months, if not more than two years.
The process of buying all the property and restoring the area to its natural state will cost $5.6 million. The FEMA grant will pay for 75 percent of the costs. The other 25 percent–or $1.4 million–would have been paid by the county.
However, Bockman said that, through another program run by the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the state will pick up the rest of the tab.
"This will be a 100 percent-funded project through state and federal funds," Bockman said.