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Park's support for troops hollow

So much for the philosophy that Americans should pull together in a time of war. Riviera Estates mobile home park in Clearwater either never got the message or doesn't subscribe to the philosophy.

The park's managers and some residents seem more intent on slavish devotion to rules than doing their part for the war effort. They actually intend to kick out a five-year resident of the adults-only park because he is providing a temporary home for his grandchildren while his son is fighting in Iraq.

Thomas Boyette never intended for his grandchildren to live there for long - just a couple of months. The family was caught between a rock and a hard place when the Army National Guard unit of Boyette's son, Sean, 32, was called up for duty in Iraq.

Before he got the call, Sean and his wife, Trisha, had put their house up for sale in Citrus Park in Hillsborough County because they had purchased a new home. However, the new home wasn't going to be ready until March, and with their home sold and Sean in Iraq, Trisha and their two children, 3 and 12 years old, had nowhere to live.

So Boyette, 53, welcomed his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren to stay with him at Riviera Estates on U.S. 19 in Countryside while they waited for their home to be ready.

Boyette didn't sneak around and try to hide his family. He wrote the park managers and asked permission. The park's rules say that guests can stay at the park for 30 days - longer with written permission. Mike Keech, the park's former manager, gave Boyette permission as long as the children stayed out of the pool and were not disruptive.

But after the family moved in in January, some residents began complaining to management that there were children living on the property. And management took a hard line. "People move to Riviera Estates for peace and quiet. And no kids," said Sharon Stewart, regional manager for Arc Investments of California, which manages the park.

Last Thursday Boyette was informed that he had seven days to comply with the rules or face eviction. Boyette, a Vietnam veteran, says he won't kick out his grandchildren. Some supportive park residents say they tried to persuade park managers to let them stay, but failed.

Until this week, Riviera Estates flew a flag that said, "We Support Our Troops." But the flag apparently was just a symbol, with no sentiment behind it. If the residents of Riviera Estates really do support our soldiers, they will troop up to the park office - all of them - and insist on the park providing a supportive, temporary home to two children whose father has put his life on the line for his country.