‘I’m too vin­dic­tive’

Owner of con­tro­ver­sial park de­fends ac­tions

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYBURTON K. JANES

A visi­tor to the coun­cil cham­bers in Clarke’s Beach on July 4 could be ex­cused for think­ing he or she was in a court­room, lis­ten­ing to a cur­mud­geonly lawyer mak­ing his spir­ited clos­ing ar­gu­ment to the jury.

But this was Ernie Mug­ford, the out­spo­ken owner of the con­tro­ver­sial MountainView RV Park, us­ing del­e­ga­tion night to “set some facts straight” about what he called the “sit­u­a­tion be­tween Mil­dred Snow and Ernie Mug­ford.”

If, in the process, he rubbed peo­ple the wrong way, Mug­ford said he didn’t re­ally care.

It was yet an­other episode in the on­go­ing drama over the di­vi­sive ex­pan­sion to the park, which is lo­cated in the town’s bound­aries, within close prox­im­ity to a res­i­den­tial area.

Dis­rupt­ing qual­ity of life

The dis­pute dates to mid-April, when the town ap­proved a 50-site ex­pan­sion to Mug­ford’s park. Two weeks later, Snow, who lives on Park Av­enue ad­ja­cent to the park, ar­gued be­fore coun­cil the pro­ject was dis­rupt­ing her qual­ity of life.

On June 2, Snow tem­po­rar­ily blocked Park Av­enue, cit­ing frus­tra­tion with the heavy equip­ment us­ing the nar­row street. She also com­plained to the Depart­ment of Mu­nici- pal Af­fairs, which is­sued a stop-work or­der a day later.

A hear­ing on the mat­ter was sched­uled to take place at the Com­fort Inn in St. John’s on Fri­day, July 8.

The is­sue has ig­nited a heated de­bate among those on boths sides, with a large num­ber of reader com­ments stream­ing into The Com­pass web­site at cb­n­com­pass.ca.

Ad­dress­ing coun­cil

Sev­eral Clarke’s Beach res­i­dents were sched­uled to ad­dress coun­cil at its meet­ing on July 4. Among them were Snow and Dionne Pen­ney, both of whom have been pub­licly crit­i­cal of the park.

How­ever, when Mayor Betty Moore in­vited them to speak, both po­litely de­clined, with­out ex­pla­na­tion.

Mug­ford then ea­gerly took­the floor, us­ing a base­ball anal­ogy, “the Mug­ford team ver­sus the Snow team,” and in­ter­ject­ing per­sonal anec­dotes.

He thanked coun­cil, es­pe­cially Coun. Roland An­drews, chair of the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee, for sup­port­ing his per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion. An­drews was not in at­ten­dance.

Coun­cil fol­lowed due process, but no res­i­dents “phoned or wrote or (made) any com­plaint what­so­ever (about the park). That’s a strike for Ernie Mug­ford,” he said.

Di­rect­ing his at­ten­tion to Snow, Mug­ford said, “ We grew up to­gether and I hope the day will come when you and I can go face-to-face and sit down and have a cof­fee as friends again.”

He said he didn’t know why Snow is op­posed to the park.

He in­di­cated the East­ern Re­gional Ap­peal Board had a “14-day leg­isla­tive win­dow” to hear Snow’s ap­peal. “Af­ter that, it can­not be heard,” he stated.

Mug­ford cas­ti­gated Pen­ney for a letter to the edi­tor that ap­peared in the June 21 edi­tion of The Com­pass. The letter was crit­i­cal of the park ex­pan­sion, and ap­pealed for res­i­dents to “join hands with Mil­dred Snow and form a cir­cle that can­not be bro­ken.”

Mug­ford said, “ You’re the last per­son on this God-given earth I would ever think was against me.”

Ap­plaud­ing coun­cil for its use of “demo­cratic right,” Mug­ford fol­lowed with a re­veal­ing com­ment: “ You won’t see (my name on a coun­cil bal­lot) be­cause I’m too vin­dic­tive.”

He re­minded those who com­plain about the nar­row­ness of Park Av­enue that “coun­cil has the au­thor­ity to ex­pro­pri­ate your land to widen the street.”

Threat of law­suit

He re­peated an ear­lier threat of law­suit if, “at the end of the day ... I lose any­thing be­cause of this.”

How­ever, he added, “against whom I don’t know yet.”

His harsh­est com­ments were re­served for an in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­fied only as a “ lowlife, gut­less id­iot that would hide be­hind a com­puter screen and use some­one else’s name when he makes com­ments,” an ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence to a Com­pass reader who has been mak­ing anony­mous on­line com­ments on the dis­pute.

Mug­ford said he hoped to be “dig­ging up sewer holes” in his park on Mon­day, July 11, three days af­ter the ap­peal hear­ing.

“I am pre­pared to go to the end of the day fight­ing this,” Mug­ford said.

Mayor Moore fol­lowed Mug­ford’s tirade by cau­tion­ing against re­sum­ing work, as the stop-work or­der was still in place.

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