An uprooted trailer home is hauled away from Palma Nova.
Janet Riley, a Legal Aid lawyer, recently filed a class action suit against the Palma Nova trailer park, its owner (Miles Austin Forman), and the Town of Davie on behalf of the park's residents. Riley is asking that a judge halt all eviction proceedings and award the residents punitive damages in excess of $15,000. The town is named in the suit because several elected officials are on the record as having reassured park residents that Palma Nova would remain a trailer community for many years to come.
More than 900 households in Palma Nova were told in August to vacate the park by the end of February. Since then, the park has fallen into a state of disarray with residents complaining of hazardous debris, rodents, theft, vandalism, and inoperable street lights. I interviewed some of those residents for Drink Up, which focused on the contaminated water that another Forman entity, Ferncrest, supplied to the folks in Palma Nova.
In the Legal Aid complaint, Riley alleges that the park's closing is the gentrification brainchild of nearby Nova Southeastern University. The Forman family was instrumental in the creation of NSU. As proof of the connection, Riley cites a 2003 presentation before Davie's Community Redevelopment Agency by NSU chief operating officer George Hanbury in which he declared that NSU needs an "academical village zone" if it intends to compete with the University of Miami.
Check out this story about NSU's battle with low-wage janitors to get an idea of how the school makes sure to get its way. Coincidentally, some of the very janitors that NSU fired live in the Palma Nova trailer park.
-- Amy Guthrie