Changes Prompt Exodus from Bay State Park
Editor’s Note: The following story was written by John Chesto and was published in the Quincy, Mass., Patriot-Ledger.
There’s an exodus happening on Cape Cod now that summer is over. But many of these people aren’t leaving the Cape – they’re just moving to a new mobile home park.
After covering the legal tussle between Attorney General Martha Coakley and the owners of the Peters Pond development in Sandwich, I’ve heard from a number of residents who have hired a towing company to move their trailers. Some are headed to Old Chatham in Dennis, some are just going next door to Dunroamin’ Cottages, and some are setting up at Ellis Haven in Plymouth. None of them seem happy about leaving.
Here’s the back story: Residents say the property’s owner – an affiliate of Morgan RV Resorts – aggressively pushed $13,000 membership fees on the campers this past spring. They say they were told they should join if they want to guarantee that they get to keep their sites at Peters Pond.
They eventually reached out to Attorney General Martha Coakley. Her staff successfully persuaded a judge to approve an injunction on Sept. 7 that would block the sale of these memberships – at least temporarily – to seasonal residents and put any money that seasonal residents have already paid toward the memberships into an escrow account.
Coakley is arguing that the residents deserve the protections of the state’s manufactured housing law (although it’s still up to the court as to whether that law applies). If that argument fails, the attorney general is also invoking one of the state’s primary consumer protection laws.
Co-owner Bob Moser told me seasonal residents were not required to buy memberships if they want to stay. He said the benefits of the memberships include discounts for other Morgan RV parks and for future annual leases at Peters Pond (many residents already pay at least $6,000 a year).
But plenty of people didn’t seem to think the benefits of membership were worth the price, and began to look for ways to sell their park model RV or leave the property.
Coakley’s injunction doesn’t appear to have stopped the dissatisfaction: Residents tell me that nearly 60 seasonal residents have left or are leaving the site. The ones who have reached out to me are saying that they’re leaving because of Morgan’s new membership fee and other policies.
Morgan’s website boasts about the bucolic lakeside setting, the opportunities for hiking, walking, fishing and swimming. But the residents of Peters Pond say one of the things they like most is the friendships they’ve made. It might be harder for some of them to keep in touch with each other now that they are no longer neighbors, but at least that friendship is something that their issues with Morgan can’t take away from them.