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Date of Issue: March 29, 2007

Mobile home park sale draws ire of Cortez

cortez park protest
Cortez Trailer Park residents and citizens concerned about a possible sale packed the regular monthly meeting of the Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage, where the residents of Cortez lent a sympathetic ear. Islander Photo: Paul Roat

Cortezians have never been known to back off from a fight, and they showed their might last week as an 80-strong throng packed the village community center to show their support opposing the sale of a mobile home park to a developer.

Cortez Trailer Park owner Butch Howey apparently received an unsolicited offer from local developer Carlos Beruff to purchase the five-acre property, which has about 620 feet of waterfront on Anna Maria Sound, including a marina at 12507 Cortez Road, southeast of the Cortez Bridge.

The $10.8 million offer apparently meets the letter of Florida law, which allows mobile home park residents first right of refusal to purchase their property, and park residents have rallied to match the Beruff offer.

Park homeowner president Bob Coulter said he had created a committee of park residents, of which two-thirds had agreed to purchase the park as a co-operative, similar to a recent action in Bradenton Beach with the Sandpiper Mobile Resort. Earnest money in the form of $50,000 was collected, Coulter said, but there had been no response from Howey on the proffer.

"He's stonewalled us," Coulter said. "I don't know where we stand on this. At this point, it looks like we'll end up in court, and I think we have a strong case. He should sell to us."

Coulter and the other park residents came to a scheduled meeting of the Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage and asked the village to support the park residents, which FISH board membrs apparently agreed to do.

"Everyone in Cortez is interested in the park," said FISH President Allen Garner. "There is very good support for the park in the village, and I will tell Mr. Beruff that it will be a battle to get my recommendation. It's not a battle that a reasonable person would want to take on."