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Soldotna trailer park residents reach confidential settlement with landlord

River Terrace RV Park in Soldotna in December 2023.
Riley Board
River Terrace RV Park in Soldotna in December 2023.

Residents of a Soldotna trailer park have settled out of court with their landlord in a confidential settlement after filing a suit late last year, which claimed an illegal eviction and insufficient utilities.

Nineteen residents are named as defendants in the suit, filed in Kenai Superior Court on Dec. 11 after tenants received an eviction notice from the owners of River Terrace RV and Trailer Park.

The suit claims the owners, Gary Hinkle and Brian Bishop, failed to provide running water to tenants for several months, and that groundwater contamination at the site affected the safety of water in the park generally. It also claims evicting the residents was illegal, because there is no clear change of use planned for the property that would necessitate an eviction.

Aneliese Palmer, an attorney with Anchorage-based civil rights firm Northern Justice Project, is representing the residents. She said the case is settling, but its confidentiality prevents her from disclosing any of its terms.

Palmer said the tenants in the case are especially vulnerable because of the lack of open trailer spots in the Soldotna area, and said many of the defendants invested heavily in their trailers because they were led to believe they could stay at the property indefinitely.

When the tenants first received eviction notices last July, many suspected the owner was selling the property to the City of Soldotna for its riverfront redevelopment project, the footprint of which includes the riverside park. But the city said that wasn’t the case, and an attorney for the owners said then the reason for eviction was to convert the park to temporary or seasonal use.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.