Published on Jun 1, 2012
Hands Across Riverdale: On June 1st, an Evicted Community Chooses to Stay Put
On June 1st, in Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Jersey Shore PA, a corporation called Aqua PVR LLC, a subsidiary of Aqua America, plans to write a story that is now commonplace in this country. They plan to evict a well-developed, caring community and begin construction on an industrial water withdrawal site. They plan to pursue profit over people and the environment. Their plan fits into an established narrative except for one flaw: the community is fighting back, and on May 31st and June 1st, they are asking for help.
This is a community that takes care of its members. Neighbors watch each other's kids when parents get stuck at work, people walk the quiet roads to check in on one another, and residents know each other's stories, families, and aspirations. On the beautiful banks of the Susquehanna, these families have built their homes together, and now are being forced out. These are working families that cannot necessarily pack up their lives and move them somewhere else. Aqua America, after initially offering less money and a shorter deadline, is offering residents $2500 if they move out by June 1st. The cost of moving a trailer is $6,000-$12,000, and rent in the area has risen because of an influx of natural gas industry workers. While some have been able to find new places to live, for many there is no option but to stay.
In February, residents found out that their home had been sold out from underneath them by reading a newspaper article detailing the permitting of their community as a water withdrawal site. Since then, they have been organizing to fight for their homes, appealing not just to Aqua, but to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which oversees the water withdrawal permitting process. Lawyers acting on their behalf have attempted negotiation with Aqua many times, and residents have organized rallies, vigils and interfaith services to seek help for their community. It is all now coming to a head on June 1st.
The community demands that Aqua America sit down with the residents and their representation to negotiate a fair deal that permits the residents to remain living at Riverdale Mobile Home Park with just compensation and the right to return for all residents who have already left in fear.
The community demands that representatives from the Obama administration and governors Corbett (PA), O'Malley (MD), and Cuomo (NY) recall Aqua America's water withdrawal permit that they approved in March at the next Susquehanna River Basin Commission meeting in Harrisburg on June 7th.
Aqua America has not made it clear whether or not it plans to pursue eviction proceedings against residents that choose to stay. Regardless of legal means, turning people's homes into an industrial site is a de-facto eviction, but some residents are still set on staying.
On May 31st, this community invites you to join them in a final vigil and funeral service for the homes that they built together, and to stay the night to bear witness and support the residents on June 1st. Help change the story: put your hands across Riverdale.
Riverdale Mobile Home Park is located at:
7 Riverdale Ln, Jersey Shore PA 17740
The Vigil begins at 6 pm.
If you plan to stay the night please plan accordingly and bring your own gear.
Other things you can do to support Riverdale Mobile Home Park:
Sign the Petition and Send this email to Aqua America CEO Nick DeBenedictis:
On June 1st, at 8 am, or any day thereafter that construction continues go to Aqua America's Headquarters at 762 West Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA. to demand that construction stop.
Attend the next Susquehanna River Basin Commission Meeting on June 7th in Harrisburg to demand that the permit be revoked.
Donate funds to the community and their campaign to save their homes: https://www.wepay.com/donations/160391
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