ELS Resort Drops Flag Display After Remodeling
The veterans who live at Paradise RV Resort in Peoria, Ariz., remember the dramatic battles they fought against the Japanese during World War II.
But a much smaller fight they have waged for the past two years is meaningful in its own way, they say. They want the management at the RV park at 10950 W. Union Hills Drive, near the Sun City-Peoria line, to rehang military flags that were removed during a renovation of the community’s main hall, the Arizona Republic reported.
The manager said that the flags violate company rules. That explanation is not sitting well with the veterans.
Lindy Lindahl, a 74-year-old Air Force veteran, helped gather 325 petition signatures this spring. The petition asks that managers restore “these symbols of respect and pride” to the place they have hung for as long as any of them can remember.
“There is a large veteran community here,” Lindahl said. “There are 90-year-old veterans here. Why should they have to fight anymore?”
The dispute began in 2010, when Paradise RV Resort owner Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) overhauled the main kitchen and repainted the community ballroom.
The cavernous space is in the center of the community, which has about 950 mobile homes and RV spaces off of Union Hills Drive in Peoria.
The ballroom has a stage and a disco ball. Residents gather there for concerts, church, dinners and dances.
Many of the residents have lived or spent winters in the 30-year-old Paradise RV Resort for close to 20 years and have grown into a tight-knit community.
Veterans especially have bonded and for several years have had a veterans club. The group has organized spaghetti dinners to raise money for military families, events that have drawn hundreds of residents. In 2010 — the year the kitchen was remodeled — the veterans club couldn’t cook, so it held a tribute to the troops, complete with an honor guard from a high school junior ROTC.
This year, with the lingering disappointment over the flag dispute, the group did not stage an event.
Lindahl, wearing an “Old Guys Rule” T-shirt this week, showed where the six service flags — representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and POW/MIA — used to hang over the ballroom’s south entrance.
Residents also used to admire a series of paintings that made up a mural of all of the activities at Paradise, such as ballroom and square dancing, computers, woodworking and glass art.
But when the ballroom reopened for meals, neither the flags nor the paintings were rehung in their usual spaces.
Residents finally found the flags in the closet of the activities center and located a few of the mural paintings. The paintings now hang in the community wood shop, and Lindahl has the flags in his house.
The blank ballroom walls upset Norris Leamer, an 87-year-old who has spent winters at Paradise for 18 years and now lives there most of the year. The retired Air Force pilot flew B-29s over Japan from Guam in the last years of the war.
“Everybody in the park admired those flags,” Leamer said. “They stood for something.”
In January, manager David Hawley sent Lindahl a one-line letter saying that the company’s “design policy statements oppose future consideration or use of wall decor in Paradise RV activity centers.”
Later, in March, the residents association decided to circulate the petition, and Lindahl presented it to Hawley. Seven representatives from local American Legion posts came along for support. Another batch was sent to corporate headquarters.
Lindahl has not had any response from the corporate office in Chicago.
Hawley said Monday that he did not want to comment further.
Waiting for action
Flag disputes percolate occasionally in the Valley, but they usually involve a homeowner and a homeowners association. In 2006, the Arizona Legislature passed a law that requires associations to permit homeowners to fly flags.
But Paradise residents — who own their mobile homes but rent the land the homes sit on — do not own the ballroom. That means that they must try to coax Equity LifeStyles to see their view.
“It’s just business to them,” said resident Harry McGuire, a 90-year-old World War II veteran. “I would like somebody to look me right in the eye and tell me the reason why we can’t have those flags up.”