JAMESTOWN, N.D. —The future of the Frontier Village tourist stop in Jamestown is unclear as the Frontier Village Association moves its collection to Minnesota and perhaps tears down the buildings at the current site.
The Frontier Village Association told the manager of the Perham Pioneer Village in Minnesota that any buildings not moved from the Frontier Village site in Jamestown would be demolished, according to Shirley Davidson, executive director of the History, Arts and Cultural Association, which oversees Perham Pioneer Village. But the attorney for Frontier Village Association disputes that.
Perham Pioneer Village is a 25-acre site located near Perham in western Minnesota. Nichole Mosolf, executive director of the Frontier Village Association, said at an Oct. 24 meeting she had arranged for another site to accept the Frontier Village assets including buildings. That site was later identified as Perham Pioneer Village.
"That is what I was told," Davidson said in an interview Tuesday, Oct. 29. "The old buildings would be demolished."
The Perham organization has already begun accepting items from Frontier Village, according to Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism.
"The city of Perham has communicated with the city of Jamestown that many of these items have already been removed and are in their possession," Swedlund wrote in an email.
Swedlund said the items were not part of the lease agreement between the city of Jamestown and the Frontier Village Association but might be the personal property of individuals who donated or loaned items to Frontier Village in the past.
"If you have provided items to the Frontier Village Association, please direct questions related to those items to the FVA board of directors," Swedlund said. "Do it soon, as artifacts have already been released by the Frontier Village Association."
The moves comes as the Frontier Village Association is in a dispute with the city of Jamestown regarding the lease of the land where the tourist site is located, near the World's Largest Buffalo Monument along Interstate 94 in Jamestown. That lease expires at the end of this year. After the city of Jamestown decided to request proposals from interested groups to lease and operate Frontier Village, the Frontier Village Association issued an ultimatum that it be given the lease by the City Council meeting on Nov. 4 or the association would begin dispersing Frontier Village's assets.
The Frontier Village Association decided not to submit a proposal calling it an "exercise in futility."
Frontier Village Association attorney and spokesman Matt Sorensen, of the Vogel Law Firm, denies the group plans to demolish buildings.
"There is no plan to do so," Sorensen said in an email reply to a request for comment. "FVA’s collection is priceless and it would not ever wish that it be demolished."
Nichole Mosolf, executive director of the FVA, was on the grounds of the village Tuesday but declined comment, referring questions to the group's attorney.
Davidson said her organization was glad to help and looked at the Jamestown assets and buildings as an addition to Perham Pioneer Village.
“They have to vacate, and we have the space,” Davidson told The Perham Focus. “What we don’t take, they’re going to demolish.”
The Perham Focus goes on to quote Perham City Manager Jonathan Smith, who said everything is agreed on verbally, so he’s waiting for more details and a formal plan.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said any talk of moving or demolishing buildings is premature.
"There is a lease agreement," he said. "That lease does stipulate that buildings become affixed to the property and the property of the landlord (city of Jamestown) at the termination of the lease."
The apparent confusion concerning the future of the Frontier Village buildings and assets in Jamestown is causing concern for at least one organization that has donated to the tourist site.
The Kiwanis Club of Jamestown most recently supplied some playground equipment for Frontier Village.
"Kiwanis has been a supporter of the Frontier Village for years," said C.J. Hager, Kiwanis president, in an email. "We are deeply saddened by the decision of the nine members of the Frontier Village board of directors to move items given in good faith, out of the Jamestown community."
Swedlund said the passion and energy of volunteers and donors for decades are what made Frontier Village possible.
"We're not responsible for the decisions they are making," he said, referring to Frontier Village Association. "We'll just have to deal with this and move on."
Heinrich said he hopes Frontier Village can improve in the future.
"The goal moving forward is to have the Frontier Village remain," Heinrich said. "For it to be an improved Frontier Village, one everyone in the region who has donated time or items can be proud of."