To The Daily Sun,
Abraham Lincoln once said "You can fool some of the people all of the time; and you can fool all the people some of the time." That statement best describes the story of Briarcrest Estates regarding the sale of the park to Maple Holding Company, an affiliate of Home Town America (HTA).
Last Tuesday, one of the residents, Brenda Baer, wrote a letter to your newspaper alleging certain information — some substantiated and some unsubstantiated. This letter is written to report the facts of the matter as discovered in the "due diligence" investigation by Lakemont Cooperative, a legally formed not-for-profit corporation, regarding the sale of the property.
First of all, the board agrees with Ms. Baer that the park owners have done a fine job in building Briarcrest into the beautiful park it is today. Further, the maintenance and ground crews do a very good job in keeping the park in the pristine condition it is in. A lot of the contentious differences she alleges are mostly due to the propaganda campaign and misinformation that has been spread around the community. Bottom line change is coming, no matter what, and most of us, especially senior citizens, are not comfortable with change. The Lakemont Cooperative feels duty bound to the members and residents of Briarcrest to provide vital information that will be affecting all of our lives and homes for many years to come. Calling our efforts a "power grab" is ludicrous and a patently false and unsubstantiated claim. The facts we will now present are true and factually reported:
— Home Town America is a multi-billion dollar, Chicago based, private equity fund created for the purpose of earning huge profits for its shareholders. These shareholders come from everywhere on the planet. The management consists of exceptionally astute financial experts coupled with a large legal department whose singular motivation is profitability.
— As mentioned by Ms. Baer, the current Briarcrest manager is a caring and concerned individual when it comes to the residents. Can the same virtues be ascribed to the managers of a huge Wall Street conglomerate? We think not. Information uncovered by the Lakemont Board regarding HTA's purchase of manufactured home park in southeast Mass. reveals that the owners/sellers were promised to be kept on and manage the park for several years. However, they were fired almost instantaneously after the sale closed, along with the entire maintenance and grounds crews and replaced by HTA's own staff and managers. Leisure Woods in Rockland, Mass. has had three different HTA managers in the last three years. One resident reported that the managers do not respond to requests for repairs or other maintenance that the park is responsible to perform. It is our sincere hope that the Briarcrest owners are not being set up for a similar bait and switch tactic by HTA because that would have a severe impact on all the homeowners in our park.
— As reported in a previous article in The Laconia Daily Sun, the ability of the CO-OP to buy the park is a very attractive deal for local banks, who are lining up to support it. That means that local earnings will stay in our community as well as being returned to Briarcrest for improvements and leveling off of annual rent increases.
— All Briarcrest residents are encouraged to do your own "due diligence" investigation, via the Internet, and look up the complaints that have mounted up against the potential buyer, Home Town America. It is not a pretty picture in the opinion of the Lakemont Board of Directors.
So, in closing, remember the words of Lincoln and ask yourself are you in the group of people who can be fooled all the time or do you want to find the truth about the sale of your park and your future and be in the group that is only fooled some of the time — but not this time ?
Interim Board of Directors
Lakemont CO-OP, Inc.