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City Neighborhoods
Sale of Lincoln Place trailer park set for today

Monday, February 10, 2003

By Jan Ackerman, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

After more than a year of litigation, there are no tenants left in the Mifflin Road Trailer Park in Lincoln Place and the property is scheduled to be sold to the city of Pittsburgh today.

"We have a closing date of Feb. 10," said Robert Downey Jr., attorney for Edward and Linda Raimondi, owners of the now empty trailer park on Mifflin Road.

The city is acquiring the 7.2 acres as a future site of a community center and fire station for Lincoln Place and surrounding South Hills city neighborhoods.

State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick, helped the city acquire $700,000 in state funds to buy the property. How soon anything could be built is anyone's guess.

Mayor Tom Murphy's office did not have any comments about the future of the project.

Before the city would agree to buy the parcel, city officials required the Raimondis to get rid of about 44 tenants and clear the trailers and debris from the property.

That process was painful and ugly. Utilities were shut off. Tenants went to court, with the help of lawyers from Neighborhood Legal Services, to try to block the Raimondis from forcing them to move or to make them pay damages.

Numerous lawsuits were filed by residents who argued that their rights as tenants were being violated by the Raimondis. A few of those lawsuits still are pending.

"Our nerves are shot," Linda Raimondi said.

The biggest lawsuit was not filed against the Raimondis but against Pittsburgh. In May, Neighborhood Legal Services sued the city, contending that it was required to pay the relocation expenses of tenants under the eminent domain law because the property is to be used for a public purpose.

Last week, Common Pleas Judge Joseph James dismissed that legal argument. He said the city has the power to purchase the property and is not required to provide relocation expenses to tenants who were evicted after their leases were terminated.

Neighborhood Legal Services attorney Eileen D. Yacknin has not decided whether to appeal James' decision.

The Raimondis are selling the property for $200,000 more than they paid for it in July 2000, but Linda Raimondi said they won't be making any money.

The Raimondis owe more than $120,000 in back utility bills. They said they had to pay large amounts of money for legal fees to evict trailer owners and to clear the property of debris.

Linda Raimondi said her husband now is battling cancer and the strains from the trailer park have worsened their financial situation. She said they paid $2,000 each to settle legal actions filed by four families that refused to leave the trailer park and challenged the Raimondis' legal right to remove them.

"It is horrible what they did to us," she said. "We are going to end up with nothing. They ruined our lives and we are going to have to start over."

Jan Ackerman can be reached at jackerman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1370.

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