DA Wamp Defends Injunction at Budgetel; Resident Claims They’re Forgotten
EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (WDEF)- In the aftermath of the eviction of hundreds of occupants at the Budgetel Inn and Suites Motel in East Ridge which wrapped up by late Wednesday evening, those affected are trying to figure out their futures.
One occupant, Monika Hill, gave an emotional interview with News 12 in which she pled, “I just want to know why whoever the person it is that is in charge, why would you close it down right before Thanksgiving and Christmas and know that there’s people here with kids?”
This injunction is not the first time the property on which the Budgetel has been shut down. Before it was Budgetel, it was the Superior Creek Lodge. As that business, it was shut down in 2010 by a similar petition of nuisance, and in 2015 as it was deemed structurally deficient.
Hill said she had lived at this property multiple times, “I lived there in 2015. I’m the person who let the news in because everybody else was afraid to tell what was going on there because they knew they had nowhere to go.”
Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp has received criticism for her decision to petition for the abatement of the motel. She said she does not regret her decision, and what she says that she found during an inspection of 30 rooms at the motel convinced her that this was the right decision. Wamp said that, “I have never seen anything like it, you couldn’t get within 20 feet of some of the doors because of the odors, and it was not just affecting me but the law enforcement I was with. There was children’s toys next to feces on the ground. I saw children’s blankets next to drug paraphernalia. It was an environment that not just kids shouldn’t be in, but adults shouldn’t be in as well.”
Hill described her own harrowing experiences at the motel by recalling, “My kids we would be getting up, getting ready to head out, and go to school and the police is out here with a body bag. Somebody had overdosed on fentanyl. I would not let my kids go outside.”
Wamp wanted to stomp out what she calls a myth by saying that no one had been thrown out on the streets. Wamp explains that, “Most of the people who lived in this hotel had private vehicles. They were paying a whole lot of money to live here every month. So we didn’t kick people out without any means or method of transportation. Those that didn’t have transportation, we provided it for them by the end of the day, and were all safely removed from the property. I had people from the hotel saying thank you this should’ve happened a long time ago.” Multiple residents have said they paid over $300 per week to stay at the Budgetel, costing them well over a thousand dollars a month in rent.
Hill disputes the claims that everyone’s situation was taken care of. She passionately imagined that, “If I were a mayor or commissioner, or somebody like that, I would never remove all of them kids from the only hope that they got. If I didn’t have any other way of accomdating them. The mayor, Ms. Wamp, and all them and all of those folks are going to go home and make their turkeys and wrap their Christmas presents and these kids, a lot of them ain’t going to have nothing.”
Wamp did want to leave one last statement on the situation by saying, “This was not fun for me, this is not what I ran for office for. My job is to protect this community, and I am not concerned about popularity, not concerned about popularity. I am concerned about the citizens of this community more importantly our children. I am confident, these children are better off anywhere, especially the hotels we placed them in working with the Department of Education, they are better off there than anywhere inside of the Budgetel Motel, period.”
Wamp mentioned that in situations like this, there is usually no notice of eviction until after a judge approves the petition. The judge in this case did not approve it until Monday, in which the Department of Education was notified which is why those with students were the first ones to know they were being evicted. She also mentioned that business owners and neighbors of the property were approving of the move due to issues they say they were having with the motel.
The start of the trial of Budgetel in criminal court, which was scheduled for next Monday, has been pushed back due to a request from the owner of the motel. The motel is currently off limits to the public as entering the property is a misdemanor.