Home since 1972 has been a double-wide mobile home with wood paneled interior walls, a simple but elegant living room, and a screened front porch from where Olga Torregrossa has watched her 55-and-older deed restricted community grow alongside the Seminole Tribe’s casinos near Hollywood.
Just as the Seminole Mobile Home Estates grew from a small trailer park to one of the biggest in Broward — with more than 700 units, and about 1,500 non-tribal residents — the tribe’s casinos to the north exploded from a modest bingo hall in 1979 to the lavish, Las Vegas-style Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino that debuted in 2004.
But that symbiotic and sometimes contentious relationship will come to an end in summer 2013. The Seminoles have announced plans to close the park after buying out the management company that held a lease to run it through March 2024.
In case residents doubted the tribe’s intentions, the Seminoles erected a chain-link fence around the community center, swimming pool, bowling alley, exercise room and other common areas on the same day the park’s closure was announced.
Only the laundry room and mailbox bank remain open.
Residents, such as Torregrossa, 88, have been asked to leave, preferably by January.
“I have no choice,’’ Torregrossa said as she stacked cardboard boxes for her move. “I feel like I’m leaving everything, all my friends.’’
Like many residents of the park, Torregrossa owns an older unit that may not survive a move. Its walls could buckle, or the roof could cave in.
Nor can all residents afford the estimated $15,000 to $30,000 expense to have a crew pull a mobile home from the ground, tow it to a new park and set it up again.
Torregrossa said she plans to leave by mid-October and move in with a friend and neighbor who will have her mobile home towed to a park in Fort Lauderdale.
The friend’s mobile home is big enough to accommodate Torregrossa, but not the decades worth of belongings she has amassed.
Torregrossa said she plans to take a love seat that opens into a twin-sized bed; an octagonal display case filled with her Hummel figurines collection; and some framed photographs of her late husband, Thomas Torregrossa, who died in 1985.
“At least there will be something there that I feel is mine,’’ she said.
Everything else — the double-wide mobile home; the dining room and living room furniture that she shared with her late husband; the master bedroom set; the odds and ends of her life — will stay behind.
And though she is resigned to move, Torregrossa said she loses sleep mulling unanswered questions: Will she like the new park in Fort Lauderdale? Will she get along with her new roommate, who’s a smoker unlike herself?
Torregrossa said the new park is much smaller than Seminole Mobile Home Estates and does not offer the amenities or the social activities that she enjoys, such as an exercise room and dance nights in the fall. On the other hand, she said, the new park sits on a nice lake.
“I’ll have to make a new life,’’ she said. “Maybe it will be better. Who knows?’’
Still, Torregrossa cannot help but feel betrayed sometimes.
“What a rotten deal we’re getting,’’ she said. “I thought they’d carry me out. I never thought they’d throw us out.’’