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Date of Issue: May 07, 2008

Cortez Trailer Park: Triumph for all

The victory party is history. Residents are settled into homes and land they own. The prior owner is tidying up his affairs, preparing to move along.

Sale of the Cortez Trailer Park seems one of those transactions in which everybody wins: seller Harry “Butch” Howey, the new owner-residents, and the historic fishing village of Cortez, which keeps the dozens of old neighbors it’s come to think of as family.

Howey, who owned the park since 1988, sold it for $9.5 million with $2.4 million down of the $2.7 million he had hoped for and which held up the deal until the last moments. Although, Howey financed the purchase himself.

It’s “a good package,” said Doug Morgan, who has lived there for years and headed the residents’ committee negotiating the deal. “He helped with the financial side all along.”

Now, Morgan explained, a cooperative will be formed to hold a 99-year renewable lease on the property in place of deeded ownership. Many park residents will own shares in the co-op and will own the mobile homes on their lots, while non-shareholder occupants will own their homes, but rent their site from the co-op.

As for Howey, he said he will leave Cortez to live in a home he built five years ago in Georgia. He doesn’t plan to retain any of the properties he owns in Cortez - “It’s time to move on.”

He grew up in the park, his parents owned since 1959, which he bought from them in 1988. Both families have lived there most of their lives.

The property is adjacent to the mainland ramp of the Cortez Bridge, 620 feet of prime waterfront with five acres holding 79 permanent homes and eight recreational vehicle sites. It also includes several small buildings and a sizable marina.

It has been a long, often uncomfortable trip according to some residents, from hope to despair to triumph over the past 14 months. An initial outside offer set the starting price of $10.8 million, and residents spent the next year and more trying to arrange financing to match it - and Howey dropped the price more than once. Final documents were signed last week.

The ultimate reaction to the sale from all sides seemed to be one big “Whew!”

There are, incidentally, no vacancies in the park.