Coun­cil ap­proves new exit for park

Ten­sion pal­pa­ble at Clarke’s Beach coun­cil meet­ing as di­vi­sions con­tinue

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRYROBERTS

Campers who use Moun­tain­View RV Park in Clarke’s Beach now have an­other means of en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing the park, but only when driv­ing their pri­vate ve­hi­cles.

In the lat­est twist to an on­go­ing dis­pute that has made head­lines for many weeks, the Town of Clarke’s Beach voted 4-3 dur­ing a Sept. 19 pub­lic meet­ing to re­clas­sify an “emer­gency only” exit on Park Av­enue as an “al­ter­nate exit.”

The de­ci­sion came fol­low­ing a re­quest from park owner Ernie Mug­ford, who has been em­broiled in a long-run­ning dis­pute with many Park Av­enue res­i­dents.

“I want to have the same priv­i­lege to en­ter and exit my premises on Park Av­enue as all the oth­ers on Park Av­enue,” Mug­ford stated dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to coun­cil.

But as part of the ap­proval, it was made clear that only pri­vate ve­hi­cles — not RVs or travel trail­ers — are to use the Park Av­enue exit.

Mug­ford of­fered as­sur­ances that only “six or seven” park users will be us­ing the Park Av­enue.

Coun­cil­lors David Moore Jr., Roland An­drews, El­don Snow and deputy mayor Kevin Hussey voted in favour of the change, while Mayor Betty Moore, Win­ston Vokey and Gary Ben­dell op­posed the mo­tion.

More than 30 peo­ple crowded into the town hall for what had been a highly an­tic­i­pated meet­ing, fol­low­ing a sum­mer of ris­ing ten­sion be­tween Park Av­enue res­i­dents, Mug­ford and park users.

The is­sue has caught the at­ten­tion of the RCMP and the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, and is ex­pected to con­tinue sim­mer­ing through­out the fall and win­ter.

Some Park Av­enue res­i­dents have been com­plain­ing about RV traf­fic on their nar­row, quiet street, and ar­gue that a re­cent ex­pan­sion to the park has fur­ther eroded their qual­ity of life.

There were sev­eral in­ci­dents at the park dur­ing the Labour Day week­end, with po­lice re­spond­ing to at least two com­plaints.

The ten­sion was again pal­pa­ble dur­ing the coun­cil meet­ing, with Mug­ford start­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion by claim­ing he is be­ing “ ha­rassed to death” and that he was tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against “sev­eral mem­bers of this com­mit­tee.”

At one point, Park Av­enue res­i­dent Mil­dred Snow, who used her ve­hi­cle this sum­mer to block con­struc­tion equip­ment from ac­cess­ing the park, stormed out of the meet­ing.

“I don’t de­serve to live in a gravel pit. That’s just what this has come to,” Snow stated as she left the cham­ber.

The main en­trance to the park is lo­cated on Brook Av­enue. But for a num­ber of years, a half-dozen or so sea­sonal site hold­ers have been us­ing Park Av­enue as an exit. As a con­di­tion of the ex­pan­sion per­mit is­sued this spring by coun­cil, the two ex­its on Park Av­enue were clas­si­fied “emer­gency only.”

De­spite ini­tially agree­ing to those terms, Mug­ford came back to coun­cil for a re­lax­ing of the rules, and won the sup­port of a ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors, prompt­ing one ob­server to re­fer to coun­cil as a “ kan­ga­roo court.”

At one point, coun­cil­lors de­bated whether park users have the same rights and priv­i­leges as cit­i­zens of the town.

“ That ques­tion will be an­swered at a fu­ture meet­ing,” stated Mayor Betty Moore.

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