Signal Cleveland has asked some residents of the Euclid Beach Mobile Home park to tell us what life has been like for them. One of the city’s only remaining mobile home communities is slated to close in August 2024.
Residents are awaiting relocation assistance packages from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which owns the park. The nonprofit intends to convert the 28.5-acre mobile home park, off Lakeshore Boulevard in North Collinwood, into green space and then give it to the Cleveland Metroparks.
Resident Carol McClain tells Signal Cleveland about what life at the park, officially known as the Euclid Beach Mobile Home Community, has meant to her.
When Carol McClain first saw the light gray double-wide mobile home with white shutters, she just knew she had found her forever home.
It took some envisioning. When she first encountered the manufactured home seven years ago, it needed a lot of sprucing up. The home was cluttered with the belongings of the last owner, who had died. The interior needed to be painted. All the carpeting needed to be replaced. The yard was piled with junk, including an old motorcycle that didn’t work.
“I had a lot of work to do, but I reclaimed it,” McClain said.
The interior of the two-bedroom, two-bath unit is painted in light colors. The roomy double-wide is tidy and inviting. McClain tends a vegetable garden in front of her home. Hanging plants adorn the railing of the front steps. Name the holiday, and McClain has the exterior of her house decorated, with everything from Easter eggs to Santa Clauses.
McClain said she declined to move into a mobile home near the front of the park, close to Lakeshore Boulevard, that was in much better shape.
“My home is 100 feet from the lake,” she said. “I love the lake. The day that I signed the purchase agreement, I couldn’t believe it because I had found what I wanted.”
She had landed an affordable home in a perfect location where she could age in place.
“The best part is that everything’s on the same level,” said the retired fundraiser for a nonprofit. “So, if I have to be in a wheelchair, I can still live here.”
A wheelchair, if she ever needs one, is most likely a long way off. McClain likes walking along Lake Erie. She said on many Friday evenings and weekends, she often sees recreational boaters on the water.
“They go into the yacht club or you can see them out there on their water skis,” she said.
For McClain, seeing them often conjured up unsettling feelings from her childhood. Growing up in the city’s mostly Black, working class Glenville neighborhood, residents were taught not to venture into neighboring Bratenahl, which was mostly white and affluent. At best, the Glenville residents feared being unwelcomed. Most of the residents in the mobile home park are working class or on fixed incomes McClain sometimes feared that the future of this stretch of the lakefront would not include a mobile home park.
Then, at a community meeting in February, residents learned that they would have to move from their homes within 18 months. WRLC officials said the 28.5 acres would be incorporated into a major redevelopment project aimed at creating greater public lake access at the Metroparks’ Euclid Beach Park. The nonprofit’s officials said bringing a major development project to the city’s mostly Black East Side was crucial since the area has often been shortchanged in such public spending.
McClain emerged early as a leader in the effort of residents to keep the mobile home park from closing. Now most residents are focusing on getting just compensation to relocate since WRLC says that the mobile home park definitely will close. McClain gave media interviews. She helped organize a petition drive. She spoke of the mobile home park residents’ plight at community meetings, to area business owners and to anyone who would listen.
She said she had no option but to fight.
“I have no Plan B,” McClain said.
She didn’t think she needed one.
Just about everyone who knew McClain knew that a mobile home was her housing of choice in retirement. She was having difficulty finding one. They were either too expensive or she didn’t like a mobile home park’s location.
McClain enjoyed spending time at Euclid Beach Park and along the lakefront years before she moved to the mobile home park. One day, she and a friend were walking a lakefront trail there. Her friend became excited when she spotted something through the vegetation.
At first, McClain thought her friend was talking about wildlife.
“She said, ‘Look, they’re mobile homes over there on the other side of the fence,’” McClain said. “I said, ‘No, I didn’t know that.’ Then we stopped to look through the fence.”
About a month later, McClain was making plans to buy what she was convinced would be her forever home.
The mobile home park may disappear, but the memories McClain has made there are lasting. She’ll always remember sitting on her back deck and looking at the lake. She just loves it when a blue bird visits. It reminds her of her eldest grandson, Anthony Kelly Jr., who drowned several years ago..
“I believe he’s a blue bird,” she said. “When a blue bird comes and sits, I’ll say, ‘Hey, Anthony.’”
“He’ll sit there looking. I can’t tell you how those kinds of things mean something to me.”
Another grandson, Aaron Kelly, 12, lives with her. He and McClain’s three other grandchildren also enjoy the lake.
“They like to come here with Nana and then we go to the lake and walk around,” she said. “That’s what we do for our entertainment – and we love it!”