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Barriers erected to close Gladstone's Prairie Rose Park

Campers at Prairie Rose Park in Gladstone are pictured behind jersey barriers Friday, after the barriers went up around 4 p.m. Campers were notified earlier this month by the city-recognized Park Board that the park would be closed for the winter and campers needed to vacate or pay a daily fee.

Barriers went up Friday closing Prairie Rose Park in Gladstone for the winter, although a few campers continued to stay even though they were told to leave by the end of the week.

A "notice to vacate premises," dated Dec. 7, was placed on each camper by the city-recognized Park Board, which consists of Monte Martin, who was elected, and appointees Joe Miller and Francine Hecker, who were appointed to the board after legislative counsel in Bismarck was conferred with and gave the city a procedure to follow, said Gladstone Mayor Kurt Martin.

The notice from the board informed campers that the park "will be closed and all campers must be removed by this date" and jersey barriers would go up.

Barriers went up around 4 p.m. Friday.

The city's other park board, Erin McGahuey, Lillian Bondell and Gwen Lantz, which the city does not recognize, believes the campers can't be forced out.

Martin said it will be up to the city-recognized Park Board to decide if and when to reopen the park.

He said he thinks the barriers are for safety purposes since there will be no snow removal in the park this winter.

"We have tried everything we can to work with (the park board not recognized by the city), but when you have a group of people who say they are going to work against you no matter what, the situation gets pretty hard to control without being a little more aggressive to get it settled," he said. "Our city ordinance clearly states that (the park) is for tourist stays only, so the ordinance has been broken for the last year or longer."

Any campers still remaining in the park Friday will be charged $150 per day, which would have to be paid before the campers could be removed, according to the notice.

The first eviction notice from the city-recognized Park Board asked the campers to vacate by July 26.

Martin said there are other trailer parks in the area that stay open in the winter, but the city-recognized Park Board doesn't want Prairie Rose Park open for safety purposes.

"There are safety issues that need to be addressed, and closing the park at this time is the best way to handle it," he said.

As of Thursday evening, there were still three campers remaining in the park's 17 lots, McGahuey said.

The campers declined to comment on the matter.

"Nobody's left (the park) in the last few days, but the notice left on each of the camper's doors said that they were supposedly supposed to be out by (Thursday)," McGahuey said.

Park board member Lillian Bondell said Thursday that she had not spoken to the remaining campers in several days and did not know if they planned to abide by the notice or try and stick it out.

Campers at Prairie Rose Park pay a monthly rate of $350, which includes water and electricity.

But Lantz said earlier this month that the campers were hauling their own water into the campsite after the water was shut off by the city Nov. 9.

Martin said attorney Sandra Kuntz, who is representing the city-recognized Park Board, is trying to get the lawsuit between the city and the unrecognized park board to go before the court in an emergency session.

That park board claims a measure on the June ballot to dissolve the Park Board should not have been on the ballot.

It also contests how the names were placed on the ballot and demanded the election be deemed invalid.

Martin said the park board not recognized by the city was asked for several open records, including meeting minutes and financial information, but the requests were not met.

Martin said he wishes that the park was less a point of contention for the city.

"I want this to come out good for the city's sake," he said. "I mean, we're trying to get grants for water projects and this is not helping. We have a lot of things that are important to do that are for the betterment of the whole town, and it's bad when you have this continuous black eye with this fighting. Our long-term objectives for the city of Gladstone are a lot larger than this dispute over the park."