‘I’m too vindictive’
Owner of controversial park defends actions
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.
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.