By Sherry Gros
Freelance Writer Highland Park Mobile AL
Can there be any more roadblocks trying to get a grant for this piece of land? While the lake sits as a dry silt bed pocked with puddles over the 25 acre wasteland, including its falling down dam, I am presented with yet a n o t h e r exercise that may be more aggravation than its worth to me or anyone else. Given the fact that the land comes with inherited adversarial elements anyone who does claim ownership or even tries to help “better” the lake is strapped with quite the liabilities i.e., time, money, annoyances, and various threats and intimidation from those who believe the lake to be their own.
Urban blight is growing more noticeable in this Highland Park neighborhood day by day. Three houses in a row on my street alone are in a state of sorry disrepair or neglect. The lawns are unkept left to grow over a foot tall, the houses are abandoned, one owned by a developer/real estate agent, one owned by a businessman, one owner deceased and is in the estate process. Top it off with a broken dam and much public debate with warring factions and lawsuits over tresspass issues ~ it’s a toxic stew for our property values. As a matter of fact with the solid realization that too many people lay claim to the lake land for it to be free and clear of title is the most discouraging news of all this week and should be of utmost concern not only to shoreline residents but to all surrounding neighborhood property owners as well. Neighbors are moving out of here as fast as they can.
The HOA (that isn’t really an HOA) has been trying to repair the dam over the last few years to keep it propped up with “volunteer repairmen” that aren’t qualified to maintain it any longer because it’s beyond their pay grade and the dam has become a public safety concern according to local earthen dam engineers.
One step in the business process to “save the lake” is to quiet the title. In the 1990s an attorney from Mobile, who did not own our land, quit claimed three acres of the lake to Spring Lake Subdivision. I guess they figured no one would ever notice. Well we did notice last year and we have aske Spring Lake subdivision HOA President Peggy Proffitt to quit claim the property back to us. We have not received a reply. Nothing more can be done at this juncture, without overwhelming community support to rebuild the dam. Until this problem is dealt with honestly it will continue to remain a problem for the stakeholders and owner of Optimist Lake. I guess I’ll be heading to the courthouse to file a quiet title.
Note: I want to thank God for the qualified individual who volunteered their time with me to kindly explain this part of the problem of our neighborhood. I am thankful.