Dispute over Cook’s Brook development continues

Cory Hurley
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CORNER BROOK — A more than decade-long battle over the development of a park at Cook’s Brook is ongoing.

It has been before the courts for some six years now, with the latest appearance Wednesday leading to the approval of an application ammendment that the parties hope could speed up a conclusion.

A group identified by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador as Captain Cook Inc. has taken the Town of Mount Moriah to court in an attempt to develop a park in the area on the south shore of the Bay of Islands. There are opposing views on who exactly is responsible for the delays in the development.

A 20-year lease agreement for two pieces of town-owned land has been in place between Dave Ellsworth and the Town of Mount Moriah since 1998. There are parcels of land on each side of Cook’s Brook — the western piece is a campground and the eastern portion an open space and performance area conducive to holding concerts and other events. The land known as Furlong’s Field was then sub-leased to Darren Earle and some other private investors.

In 2005, The Western Star ran an article with the proponents of the park, outlining their concerns that the town is hindering their efforts to pursue the project.

At the time, Earle said the leaseholder is responsible for the maintenance of all buildings in the park, as well as the facility’s roads, trails and other infrastructure. The lease also stipulates that the leaseholders continue to permit the town’s fire department to have access to a piece of land to carry out firefighting training exercises.

The feud is over a number of alleged breaches of that lease agreement by the town dating back to 1999, and as recently as 2011 and 2012. They include placing a 40-foot container on the land and not removing a structure that was there. There are also issues pertaining to the breakwater at the waterfront.

Because of insurance issues, the proponents said they were forced to give up pursuing the development — even though they had started to do some work.

First festival

In the summer of 2000, the park held what was hoped to be the first of many festivals. The campground plans included constructing between 90 and 120 campsites, mainly along the beachfront.  It was hoped the area could be turned into a year-round attraction.

In court Wednesday, lawyer Adam Crocker, representing Captain Cook Inc., said there has been issues of trespassing and breaches of peace in the past couple of years with respect to the lease agreement.

Attorney Dean Porter, representing the town, said Crocker is now the seventh lawyer for the plaintiff on this matter and the town was prepared to move forward. He said the case is continuing to cause the town unnecessary costs, and it is now time to deal with it.

Justice William Goodridge said he was also concerned about the ongoing costs of the matter to those involved. He approved the ammendment to the application, and said it would proceed at the expense of the plaintiff. He also encouraged both parties to move the case forward.

Organizations: Town of Mount Moriah, Supreme Court

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland and Labrador, Bay of Islands Western Star

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Recent comments

  • Grewupthere
    March 12, 2013 - 18:12

    It's so funny to be reading all this comments. I said it from the start and I will say it again. The town of mount moriah should try and develop the mess they got there first before trying to fight for more land to cause another mess. And yes they should kick all members off and start fresh with new young open minded people. Put it this way they will not be winning tidy towns award anytime soon ! Dave keep up the fight if there is anyway possible .... And the town of Mt Moriah maybe you should try and work on some unfinished projects and dirt you got on the go around the town. I could name a few scams on the go with the town and favoured people living in the town but iam sure the ones that live there all know. All I can do is shake my head and can't believe that the town can get away with this all these years ! Sad but true and even worst it ain't gonna change anytime soon ...

  • cooks brook rocks
    February 26, 2013 - 11:46

    Hey Steve it sounds like you know who this Joseph guy is, because you agreed with that comment he made. Either you are as stupid as Joseph or your on the council or you just might be Joe himself. So I don't need to read my comments again because I know what I said after all I made the comment and its based on facts. Not like Josephs comment who was speaking through his butt. No I'm not Mr. Ellsworth but I'm proud and privileged to be his friend. Do that surprise you, not only that he has a lot more friends according to the comments being made. When he wins his court case I guess he's going to have a lot more friend except you Joseph Steve or Joe or what ever name you are going to use for your next comment. P.S. why not use Jim for your next out of the your butt comment that way you can dispute that as well

  • Assumed
    February 25, 2013 - 18:45

    To "Joe" - Shame on you! Leading people to believe that you were posting as Joe Park! You had me duped! Your imitation of Joe Park was impeccable!

    • Joe Park
      February 25, 2013 - 19:26

      Contact me at what I provided below and I guess you find out for sure. Cheers Joe

  • Assumed
    February 25, 2013 - 18:36

    To Joe Park - my sincerest apologies. I should NOT have assumed you made the posting under the name of "Joe".

  • Joe Park
    February 25, 2013 - 12:48

    This is Joe Park. I have never taken part in discussion groups like this and haven't posted anything on here until now. I suggest with all the people here speaking ill of the current council we should see a flurry of people stepping up to the plate in this falls election. For those who choose to bad mouth me and post things on behalf of me, be a real man and call me or come see me and speak to me face to face. If I have anything to say about anyone I will say it to their face. For those of you who choose to Assume, remember Assuming will only do one thing and that is make an ass of yourself. If you wish to contact me feel free to do so. joepark@live.ca 785-7223

  • Speak up for the right thing
    February 24, 2013 - 22:25

    I have always felt the downfall of humans is that their emotions overrule logic. I think the people of MM really need to wake up and look at what their council is doing. I don't think there's a lot of logic being used by this council. we need to better the community for everyone I beg you MM use your logic and stop the bull

  • Mount Moriah Resident
    February 24, 2013 - 13:16

    What plans do the Town have for developing the park??? I pay taxes. I have a right to know even if I don't go to Council Meetings.

  • cooks brook rocks
    February 24, 2013 - 02:54

    Who ever heard of some one breaking the law and causing damages and you take them to court, only for the judge to order you to pay for there lawyer fee's that whats happening here, The town had broken the law some three weeks after both sides had done and filed there discovery, by digging ditches and putting rocks on both entrances to the park, This was all done without a court order and with out a town vote, that why Mr Ellsworth wanted to amendment the application to include the ditches and rocks. Everyone in the town knows that the town put the rocks there and if it is proven that the town or mayor done this with out going through the proper channels, like a court order or a town vote, that didn't happen in this case so that really means the law has been broken not once but twice by not getting a court order and by not have a vote and spending the town money to do it.Now the courts wants Mr.Ellsworth to pay there lawyer fee's. The judge said he was concern about the ongoing costs of this matter for those involved. I guess that's why he order Mr. Ellsworth to pay for it. Mr.Ellsworth who is retired and on a fix income to pay while the town with endless money coming in.They pays nothing again. I wonder was it because there lawyer, said that Mr. Ellsworth has had 7 lawyers what has that go to with the price of tea in china. Their's are perfect reason why Mr. Ellsworth has had 7 lawyers. After all it has only been 14 years fighting the town just to get insurance. Witch he couldn't because the town had those buildings and would not get rite of them until there lawyer order the town to remove them some 6 years ago. This day in age this is so wrong, make no wonder the world is the way it is, look what we got to deal with.

  • Former Council Member
    February 23, 2013 - 19:25

    Although I cannot proclaim to be an "expert", I am not uneducated or a whiner. I have attended meetings with the Mt. Moriah Town Council. During those meetings I was not made aware of the details of the contract between the Town of Mt. Moriah and Captain Cook Inc. Maybe the Deputy Mayor (Joe) can provide details of the plan for the "park" that the Town has for the land that is not in their possession. It is disturbing how the Deputy Mayor can represent the Town in such a unethical, unprofessional manner in both meetings and in public forum.

  • cooks brook rocks
    February 22, 2013 - 01:54

    Hey joe, The first lawyer took his money and never open the file. The second one try to work out a new lease to include the buildings.But first the town had to get approved to do there fire training. They said they had approval. The cost of this lease was in the thousand of dollars for Mr.Ellsworth the town paid nothing. When it all came out the town never had any kind of approval at all. Know Mr. Ellsworth can't take it no more he wanted to go to court; but the lawyer didn't want nothing to do with taking a town to court . The third lawyer done some really good work he was getting ready to file court papers and suddenly he died. The forth also done some really good work and filed court papers and then that lawyer relocated to Alberta.The fifth lawyer had to play catch up and file some more court papers but he also didn't want anything to do with taking a Town to court The sixth lawyer done what he could but the file was so thick it was carried around in boxes and it took up a lot of his time just to read it and a lot of Mr Ellsworth money and it was get no were Mr.Ellsworth then when out and got himself a seventh lawyer and he not afraid of any town he said he was going to get Mr.Ellsworth justice. PS the reason for these lawyers wanting nothing to do with taking a town to court his because its not the town money there spending it the peoples and they though Mr.Ellsworth would run out of money long before the town would. This is the time for me to say think again.

    • New resident to the south shore
      February 23, 2013 - 17:50

      SHAME ON YOU TOWN OF MT. MORIAH Spending all the tax payers money on this noncence. Sounds like to me that some members of the town council don't like Mr.Elsworth and because of their childish actions as brought the town of MT.moriah into this lawsuit, shame on you. Not only losing money in lawyers cost our economy is losing millions from the thousands and thousands of tourist from cruise ships and everything each year. That could be visiting the most niestest places in. Newfoundland, beautiful beaches beautiful mountains and trees everywhere to be seen NOT including the prettiest salmon brook and natural swimming hole with warm temperatures in the world. And no one even knows its their unless ur from here or got family or friends here. Im sorry but i have to say it again shame on you guys who are childish enough to stop this main attraction. of the south store highway for almost ten years or more now. What a tourist attraction for the big do here next summer with thousands more tourist to come, that beach could hold everyone plus more come on everyone smartin up and lets get cooks brook on the go. Im assuming Joe it was you guys that must of been wrong because i haven't read anything from your mouth since cook brook rocks sent you back to school. With your dirty ignorant mouth. can't wait to go swimming again at cooks we all loves it, beautiful place.

    • steven
      February 25, 2013 - 06:46

      I believe you are either Dave Ellsworth or someone very close to him, also I agree with Joseph below, reread your comments, hello.

  • cooks brook rocks
    February 21, 2013 - 20:28

    Hey joe, you must have been in the top of your class, is everyone on council as ignorant as you are to call someone uneducated because they're telling you the truth and you don't like it. If you were educated, in 2003 the park was hit with a natural disaster D.F.O. and E.M.O all agreed that the park was destroyed and Mr Ellsworth use 10 of thousand of dollars of his own money and several years of his life to repair the damaged done to the park . The park is now restored and more beautiful than it ever was in the past. Here is another fact for you, if Mr Ellsworth has broken one law, let alone every law, then the town would have been the one taking Mr Ellsworth to court not the other way around. Mr Ellsworth is taking the town to court . Another fact is that you just said that the town has something planned for the park, and that what everyone was talking about all along. Wow the park is not even in your control and you already have plans for it, personally i think the plans were hatched in 2000. To respond to the comment that he had 7 lawyer, by the way maybe it was 8 i will straighten you out on the facts of that a little later, keep tune in. By the way you should not called anyone uneducated when you are not so smart your self.........

  • Joseph
    February 21, 2013 - 11:49

    I really have to chuckle at all you experts on here who think you know everything when you know diddly squat. I am a resident of MM and all CC has done since leasing that land is destroy it, all you experts must know the details of the contract inside and out (I really doubt it). CC has broke everything he signed on not to do, that is part of they reason why its in the court, and all you whiners must go to every council meeting to know what the Town of MM has planned for the park, (I doubt that as well). Before you go on to a public forum and blast off with your uneducated mouths you might want to inquire/investigate what you are going to talk about first. CC has breached the contract many times and that is why its in the courts. Isn't anyone even curious why CC has had 7 lawyers, because everyone before this guy knows he is in the wrong, it won't be long before this green horn realizes it as well.

  • cooks brook rocks
    February 19, 2013 - 16:10

    Rusty I was talking to Mr.Ellsworth a couple of mounths ago he had over 10 thousand spent then and the court action is just starting . So it will be a lot more money then that by the time it over as for the town on like mr ellsworth who had lawyer for the pass 12 years working on this the town only had a lawyer working on this for 6 years because that when they told there lawyer about the buildings and the disagreement that why in has taken so long to get this heard i don't know how much money they got spent but you can say this the town is on the hook for a lot of money

  • cooks brook rocks
    February 19, 2013 - 15:37

    The town stopped Mr. Ellsworth in every way they could. First, by putting two buildings in the park some two years after Mr. Ellsworth signed the lease. The town knew that Mr. Ellsworth was responsible for all building but they decided at a meeting they were putting them there anyway and without any knowledge to Mr. Ellsworth thus Mr. Ellsworth could not get insurance because the fire department was using the buliding to start fires and didn't have any approval nor could they get any approval from any part of government to do so. Secondly, there was a rain storm in march 31 2003 which caused 10's of Thousands of dollar damage to the park and the town didn't apply to E.M.O. for damages done to the park and the ownis is on the the town to apply for damages because the land ultimately belongs to the town and town is the leaser. The town is responsible to make any claims to the E.M.O. Thirdly, to be shut down for four years on stop work order by the town and not buy the courts. Fourthly, by putting rocks and digging ditches along the entrances to the park denying the right of Mr. Ellsworth to protect his investment this all done without having anything from the courts saying that they could do this. THE people of Mt Moriah must get involve or it all one day it will be condo's and no one will be allowed down there not even you mayor. you tell me has there been any law broken here

  • Rusty
    February 19, 2013 - 08:11

    Way past time for the Town Council to step down. The walking trails mentioned has been sold for a gravel pit. People bought land in Mt. Moriah that had been approved to build on and found out later that they couldn't get a permit to build! (Unless you are related to a Councilor) Leased land that could provide employment and enjoyment and now not allowed to develop.... Time for Mt. Moriah to amalgamate with Corner Brook. Do any one know how much tax money has been spent on legal fees?????

  • Past Resident too
    February 18, 2013 - 22:05

    Many residents of Mt. Moriah can testify to Mr. Ellsworth's dealings with the Mt. Moriah Town Council. The method of attack that the Council and Mr. Dean Porter takes is to prolong legal proceedings until the individual depletes all monetary funds. Mt. Moriah could be thriving like Massey Drive if it weren't for the small minded Town Council. The only people who can prosper in Mt. Moriah is relatives of the Town Council. Kudos to Mr. Ellsworth for having the courage and fortitude to carry on. Best of Luck!

  • cooks brook rocks
    February 18, 2013 - 17:02

    the lease between the town of MT Moriah and Captain Cook Inc is for TWO pcs of land on both sides of cooks brook on the ocean side. and IT DIDN'T INCLUDE the parking lots on the both sides of the south shore hwy at cooks brook and IT DIDN'T INCLUDE the swimming hole or walking trails at cooks brook This place will be one day the JEWEL of the south shore worddd p.s. that if the town wakes up and take action

  • Past resident
    February 18, 2013 - 08:55

    I was visiting Mount Moriah last summer and the mayor had ordered large rocks to be placed at the entrances so the developer could not access his leased property or develop it in any way. This is before the courts had ruled on anything;he was just taking the law into his own hands. Something smells fishy here. Why is the town spending taxpayer's money suing a resident trying to beautify the area? One rumor is that they have received an offer from a developer who has offered a lot of money to the town to buy the property so they want to drive Mr. Ellsworth out. This sounds personal to me.

  • Curlingite
    February 16, 2013 - 16:38

    I spent many a day swimming at Cook's Brook. Back in the day there WAS a restaurant, lounge and take-out service at the site. If ANY developments are going to be undertaken there, it need not be full scale changes.. A boardwalk leading up to the swimming hole would be nice and several trash cans strategically placed would be a definite must. As for businesses opening up there, maybe a seasonal take-out stand [probably from a chip van-type setup] would definitely be a major plus and would make a decent buck for some enterprising entrepreneur.. A camp ground or trailer site would be OK as long as it was strictly seasonal and properly managed. All in all, there needs to be something done with the place and all the political posturing really should be set aside in favor of some serious planning and implementation.. It's a piece of history that needs to be preserved...A park, in the truest sense of the terminology, would work as long as it's designated by the provincial government as such and maintained accordingly.. Time will tell..

  • Devil's Advocate
    February 15, 2013 - 21:59

    Development of cook's brook would ruin it in my eyes, kill it as a "natural" swimming hole. A couple garbage cans would be nice though, makes me sad at the crap people throw around down there. Especially the glass bottles.

  • Grewupthere
    February 15, 2013 - 18:24

    This is very sad to talk about... I grew up in the town of mount moriah and they are a town that goes back in time not forward ! Mount moriah has no plans in doing anything with the park, and they want to spend the tax payers money on court. They can't even put a garbage can at the swimming hole or put a load of fill on the parking lot. For a natural swimming hole so beautiful they should be ashamed. Years ago mount moriah use to be the only town with a walking trail but like I said before going back in time..... They couldn't even up keep that so they don't have one anymore ! Put it this way they have no intention doing anything with cooks brook park so why are they fighting with a long time resident who pays taxes and will employ residents . I can give many examples why the town don't deserve a second chance for the park..... Oh did I mention that the town has a grave yard that dates back to the 1800 s that have the locals don't know exists ... They town of mount moriah can't even put a sign up or cut the alters out of an over grown trail .... The town is in need of working on thing like there trails and grave yard before they try and start a park they can't finish !! Oh and maybe the can invest in a garbage can or two for the swimming hole ...

  • Cook's Brook was the spot
    February 15, 2013 - 11:15

    I have to agree with "missing cook's brook", as a kid growing up, I loved Cook's Brook, it was always packed there. I visit there when I do make it home, and I tell my kids that this was an awesome spot growing up. I believe if they do develop this property people will come!

  • Missing Cook's Brook
    February 15, 2013 - 08:56

    When we were kids, a full sunny day @ Cook's Brook was great - it was always packed with kids & adults. Now when my Sister & I visit (every year) , we always say 'What a spot for a park & restaurant!' After all these years (30+), there is still no development there and it's such a shame. "If you build it, they will come"..... it's a given.