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Despite no water or power­ some won’t leave inn

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 9:38 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
The power was out early this week at the Heritage Park Inn, a “condotel” for long-term residents, forcing those who have chosen to stay into dark nights.
The Kissimmee Utility Authority shut off service around 9 a.m. Monday.

News-Gazette Photo/Ken jackson
Garbage piles up to the right of a breezeway at the Heritage Park Inn. Water and power have been shut off due to unpaid bills.

Residents already had no running water after Toho Water Authority ended service on April 21 to the location on U.S. Highway 192 between Bill Beck Boulevard and Simpson Road.
In both cases it was because unpaid bills went past due.
A former resident, Janice, 31, who did not want to give her full name, said she moved after the water was turned off to another U.S. 192 property. She returned Monday to help others who remained and tried to keep her two children from roaming unkempt grounds that featured an empty pool, overflowing trash cans and chairs lining the halls as residents took brief respites to
sit outside.
“It’s been ridiculous,” she said. “I’m trying to help people who can’t leave. I was paying $600 a month, now I have to pay $960.”
She said the rent had included utilities, and that residents blame a legal squabble between the condo association and off-site ownership as to why the bills haven’t been paid.
Notices left on the office windows from the 2050 Condotel Inn Association, a management company, said it had not received any funds from the owner and former manager of the hotel, Excellence Holding, to pay bills.
The note warned the complex would be condemned shortly after the power went out.
“The Association has no funds to upkeep the complex or to pay for utilities, this is due to almost zero collections of dues and rent,” the note said.
Over the weekend, groups like the Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank delivered water to those remaining. Osceola County Human Services staffer David Barnett was there Monday morning after the power was cut to hand out pallets of bottled water.
According to the county, Human Services has visited the site each day since the power loss became imminent. A press release Sunday said many residents had planned to move on once that happened, but Barnett didn’t get that impression as he handed out water a couple hours after the cutoff, he said.
“Those on the second floor will feel it the most. Our hope is people will start filtering out, because without power this won’t be a real hospitable place,” he said.
About 45 families came to get water Monday, Barnett said.
The county said the Health Department would likely declare a public health sanitary nuisance at Heritage Park Inn this week, starting a state-mandated process that could lead to forced evictions.
“I know there’s a process, but I don’t know how it goes, who would enforce making everyone go,” Barnett said. “We’ve never had to get to that level.”
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has sent periodic patrols to check the property; a pair of plain-clothes detectives walked the parking lot Monday morning.
Over the weekend, the property office was locked but had power. It remained locked Monday with no power.
According to notices on the window posted May 2 by Osceola County Code Enforcement, the property has gone the month of May without a valid business tax license.
A code enforcement hearing was scheduled Wednesday, which would define how the violations will be handled.