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Hill Country Living

Even The Kids Are Doing A Little Ciphering On Trailer Park Density

My friends and I were entertained to see in the paper last week that Betty would rather move to Panola County or, if things got real, to New Mexico before she would live next door to the potential trailer park. To steal from my friend Claire of Wood Street ( who I steal from often for this column): Betty has options, y’all! 

Can Water Valley really risk bringing in any sort of factors that could potentially set up a chain of events that may one day lead our Betty moving to New Mexico? This is just not a risk I am willing to take. Who will write about barbecue sandwiches and their fear of lizards? I could try, but I’m not scared of lizards so there’s just no way I could fill those shoes. So it’s settled, right? No trailer parks. We can’t risk losing Betty.

The trailer park has been much discussed in my household. Not so much from me, as my conversation is usually just asking my boys to turn down the television, to not wrestle in the same room I’m in, and to please, for the love of God, aim better in the bathroom.

They talk about it to each other. It’s become a lurking Grinch in the background of their little Blount Street lives. This morning the younger one was looking out our backdoor toward the space where the trailers are supposed to go and asked the older one,”How many trailers are going there?”

“A hundred,” the older one said. “Six on each acre.”

“How many acres do we have at our house?”

“About two.”

The younger one thought for a minute…”That’s twelve trailers! Twelve trailers are gonna fit in our yard?!?”

“No, not in our yard. Duh. Over there,” said the oldest one, pointing to the spot. “And not 12. A hundred.”

“So there will be a hundred new people there?”

“No. Probably more. Each trailer might have one person or two people or three people or four people.”

“What?! How many peoples is that?”

“Four hundred people.”

While I am very pleased that the potential trailer park is apparently scaring my children into utilizing the math skills they learn at DES, I really wish there was another reason for them to practice multiplication. Like, say….multiply the number of feet of green space it takes for your little six year old self to feel happy and for your Mama to plant a few flower bushes times how many feet of sidewalk it takes for you to safely walk to the bus stop and apply that answer to someone besides yourself. What is the right answer for one, should be the right answer for another in terms of low-income housing standards.

Or how about this one: divide the number of potential strangers (let’s say 300) by the number of children who currently live on Blount Street (let’s say 10). How many new strangers is this per child? I feel jealous of you parents who aren’t having to do this math. 

Mickey and David and the supervisors and the guys who own the thing know all the numbers and math in terms of property values and cost of construction, etc. So go to them for all that kind of money talk. There’s only so much I care about that as it’s not my very biggest math problem.

Mine is how to make sure the children who will live in the “park” are valued by having some decent standards met and, if those standards aren’t met, how my kids are going to deal with living next door to the dangers that could potentially accompany what could become an ill-kept slum. 

Our public housing here is quite nice, from outside appearances. The homes and yards are so well kept by the families who live there and they have a great view of town coming down the hill of Blackmur Drive. And they are actual brick and mortar homes, attached to the ground. They aren’t pushed into some hidden field behind the Pig.

So, again, there is a way to do low-income housing right. And again, I am a trailer kid so I’m not opposed to a trailer. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes. But what’s happening here is not a gotta-do situation. It’s a getting-done-to-us situation and we don’t have to take it.

We have the choice to do what’s right and we should do it thoughtfully and with care for others. And I would say I’m sorry for harping on the trailer park again. But I can’t say I’m sorry because I’m not. It might not be your problem now but it might be your problem one day, both as someone who owns a home or as someone who needs an affordable place to stay. How many blind eyes does it take until this problem shows up at your back door and your children are looking out across their yard counting strangers? You do the math.

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