Dispute over Cook’s Brook development continues

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on February 15, 2013

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.