Unhappy campers

Terry Roberts
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Bitter legal dispute puts season in jeopardy at popular campground in Trinity Bay

A bitter, complicated legal dispute over who owns the lease for a former provincial park in Trinity Bay is causing serious fallout for a group of people who spent their own money to acquire and upgrade campsites at the park.

Roughly 50 families spent at least $10,000 each for the long-term use of a site at the park near Green's Harbour and to become members of Shag Rock RV and Recreation Resort. Many invested thousands more on trailers, decks, sheds, fences, landscaping and even wharves, and were to pay a $600 annual fee for service and maintenance.

Ed Singer strolls the beach at a park near Green's Harbour, Trinity Bay. Singer and Ian Fitzgerald are embroiled in a bitter ownership dispute over the park. - Photo by Terry Roberts/The Telegram

Green's Harbour -

A bitter, complicated legal dispute over who owns the lease for a former provincial park in Trinity Bay is causing serious fallout for a group of people who spent their own money to acquire and upgrade campsites at the park.

Roughly 50 families spent at least $10,000 each for the long-term use of a site at the park near Green's Harbour and to become members of Shag Rock RV and Recreation Resort. Many invested thousands more on trailers, decks, sheds, fences, landscaping and even wharves, and were to pay a $600 annual fee for service and maintenance.

The problem is, these camping enthusiasts are no longer sure of who owns the park, and whether their investments are protected.

"We're innocent victims here," said one member of Shag Rock, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing legal proceedings and the uncertainty over how the dispute will be resolved.

Shag Rock members are caught in the middle of a fight between Ed Singer of Brigus, owner of Backside Pond Ltd., and Ian Fitzgerald of Mount Pearl, owner of NL RV Resorts Inc.

The two have been battling for months over title to the lease of the property.

It's a story with more layers than a pancake breakfast, and reaches the highest levels of the provincial government. Both sides are trading serious accusations. There are stories of angry confrontations between Singer and Fitzgerald, and the whole matter is being further complicated by a failed marriage.

Both have been described by those close to the dispute as "large personalities."

Backside Pond Ltd. is the original holder of the Crown lease to the park, but NL RV Resorts has operated the business for the past two seasons through an operation agreement that saw it pay monthly rent of $10,000 plus HST to Backside.

Shag Rock members purchased their memberships, which gave them full access to the park and their sites, from NL RV Resorts. But the company is no longer operating the park.

What's more, Backside Pond is waging court action to try to regain title to the property, saying an amended lease issued to NL RV Resorts by the government in 2007 was illegal because a sale had never been completed. It's a position that was supported by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland last spring.

If Backside Pond Ltd. wins the current court battle, Singer has said he will not honour the agreements reached between members of Shag Rock and NL RV Resorts. Instead, he will give Shag Rock members the first option of buying regular season passes - up to $1,200 plus HST for a waterfront site - to maintain their place in the park. That would effectively double the annual fee members were to pay.

The dispute has left many people wondering how they ever got tangled up in such a mess.

"I don't know what would be the fairest thing to do. I guess that's why it's in court," said another member of Shag Rock.

Members of Shag Rock contacted for this story asked that they not be named, and a lawyer retained by the group, Stephanie Hickman, declined comment.

But with camping season fast approaching, Shag Rock members are scrambling for answers. Will their original agreements be honoured? Will they have to leave the park? Will the court order the province to return the park to Singer, who re-occupied the property in January and is preparing to resume operations? Or will Crown Lands clear the deck and issue a call for proposals for a new operator, which is the preferred option of several members of Shag Rock?

"I don't want to hear Ed Singer's name, and I'm just as adamant that I don't want to hear Ian Fitzgerald's name either," said a Shag Rock member.

"We did things in good faith. We have some pretty astute people within our membership, but it was never anticipated this would happen."

The next court date is May 1, when a judge will be asked to direct the Crown as to the status of the lease. It's the same day the park is scheduled to reopen for the season.

And there's another wrinkle: Newfoundland Power recently cut services to the park and removed some infrastructure because of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.

Deal turns sour

The dispute started out as a business deal between two entrepreneurs, but it turned sour, with both sides crying foul. In a nutshell, here's how it appears to have unfolded, based on court documents.

In the winter of 2007, the two men agreed on a purchase agreement that would see Fitzgerald pay $1 million to Singer to acquire the lease to the park. Fitzgerald would pay $100,000 upfront, and the remainder would be paid as part of a mortgage.

The deal required the written consent of the the environment and conservation minister, a post then held by Clyde Jackman.

Both sides say they were given repeated assurances by a senior environment official that consent was forthcoming. But weeks went by, and Singer, still confident of ministerial approval, agreed to let Fitzgerald take occupancy of the park.

In the meantime, Singer's former wife got involved, and the Supreme Court ordered that any money from the sale of the lease be held in trust pending a further court order.

Then, in the summer of 2007, both sides decided to enter into an "operational agreement," which essentially required Fitzgerald to pay rent to Singer, with the payments eventually being deducted from the purchase price.

At about the same time, Jackman signed off on the lease transfer, even though the sale hadn't been completed.

In a written statement to The Telegram, a government spokeswoman said this was done because "a document in the usual form was filed with government indicating that a transfer had taken place and also requesting an assignment of lease."

This prompted Singer and his lawyer, Michael Crosbie, to commence legal action, and a judge ordered that the amended lease be placed in trust with Les Thistle, Fitzgerald's lawyer, until the sale could be finalized. The judge also ordered that Fitzgerald pay outstanding rent to Singer.

The two sides continued to lock horns on different matters for many months, until finally Fitzgerald left the park in late 2008, and advised his lawyer to return the amended lease to the Crown.

As it stands, Fitzgerald no longer has any connection to the property, since the amended lease has been returned and the operation agreement has been terminated.

But it's also uncertain as to whether Singer has a right to the property, since his original lease was amended.

That's a question the courts are being asked to decide.

"Government will be directed by the court proceedings," the statement from Environment and Conservation stated.

Yet Singer now occupies the park, and is conducting normal business.

"We feel like we're being held to ransom," said a Shag Rock member.

The member said he understands that if Fitzgerald didn't pay for the park, he shouldn't own it. But he's also frustrated that Singer has reoccupied the park, and will benefit from all the improvements undertaken by Fitzgerald.

"He's getting all this infrastructure for free and us as a captive audience, because where are we going?" the man asked.

Singer alleges that Fitzgerald failed to live up to the terms of the operation agreement by not making monthly payments, and by trying to renegotiate the purchase agreement at the 11th hour.

Singer argues the lease is rightfully his, since a sale was never completed.

Fitzgerald charges that Singer became less interested in a sale after his wife intervened. Fitzgerald alleges he was prepared to purchase the lease, but that Singer refused to credit money paid under the operation agreement to the purchase agreement.

Fitzgerald alleges that Singer tried to pressure him into agreeing to terms that would have breached the court order involving his former wife. Singer denies this.

Fitzgerald also contends that Singer's actions during the dispute damaged his reputation, and he is threatening legal action. Fitzgerald estimates he spent $357,000 on equipment and improvements at the park.

Both men spoke to The Telegram and staunchly defended their actions.

Singer said he still wants to sell the park, but is also prepared to operate the business for as long as it takes.

Fitzgerald hopes the court will order the government to call for proposals for a new occupant. He plans to be first in line.

troberts@thetelegram.com

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: NL RV Resorts, Backside Pond, Shag Rock RV and Recreation Resort Supreme Court Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: Trinity Bay, Newfoundland

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • j
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    I guess these campers are feeling the same lost as we did 2 yrs when NLRV took over and kicked us out cause we didn't have the 10,000. These people are upset they are out there money and the lost of 2 yrs some of the orginal campers had been there for decades can you imagine there lost!!!!

  • CHRIS
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    We too camped at this park when our kids were small. Mr Singer was rude and we never saw any improvements to the park since he took over.
    All you see in this story is greed. Take the park Back Danny ..put it in the hands of the Government and allow Newfoundlanders to enjoy it as it should be.. not run down as it has become.

  • S
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    It is my understanding from reading this acticle, that the Supreme Court of Newfoundland supported a position that the ammended lease that was issued by the Government to NL RV was illegal because a sale had never been completed. Is there anything being done by the RCMP or any other legal authories in terms of an investigation on this to determine if this indeed was illegal?

  • kate
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    seems quite typical of previous nl. goverments to award this provinical park to a non newfoundlander. and such a prime location just 1 hr from the capital. 422 hectares what a bargin . No wonder there is so many newfie jokes going around about us. Singer must of laughed all the way to the bank.

  • Brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    With all due respect to those involved,
    why would this minor business story that involves a few people warrant front page banner coverage. Who cares? With all the goings on in today's world, it amazes me at times to see where The Telegram places it's priorities.

  • Disgusted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    This is truly a story of greed and nothing more. My children loved swimming at Backside park and did so for many years when it was a provincial park. Now they have to pay to get in to swim in the pond - so not only did someone buy the park but the pond as well! It is a profound loss for the residents in nearby communities. No longer are the children in these communities welcomed as they contribute little to the pockets of greedy people like Singer.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Clearly the Courts have one option here to fix this mess.
    The call for new proposals is necessary. With that said, starting a clean slate, Mr.Fitzgerald Can Be the first in line to apply but it's likely a more backed, suited consortium of individuals would present themselves, (especially after his $350,000 personal investment, which the property has swallowed up) and likely be awarded the Crown Land enterprise.
    On it's face This is an interesting article, however the issues and players including other lawyers run deeper than meets the eye. Hopefully the Telegram will continue to follow this story as it unfolds and continue to investigate any other Shadow Partners and there interests to this property. In the mean time Campers should find alternate arrangements this year and watch this battle emblaze from the sidelines, this is one not to rush before the beginning of this Season. This arguement should be settled Right one time only and it's then likely the seasonal livyers will have Brand New sensible ownership for there surrogate community. A question the Telegram may wish to answer first for it's readers is, Who are the Shadow Lawyers who have financial interest and ties to this deal?? Skullduggery like this is common in there breed.

  • Corey Trevor
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Its too bad the politically connected can get their hands on publicly built, owned and developed infrastructure, and turn it into their own personal playground to enjoy as they see fit.

  • July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Based on this article, it seems Fitzgerald and Singer have selfishly approached The Telegram to engage in a public mud-slinging contest to discredit each other. But all they have accomplished is to discredit themselves in front of friends, family and neighbours with this dirty laundry. The government, Clyde Jackman, has shown poor governance (oxymoron - in which the second half aptly describes Jackman) in this issue by making unfounded promises. Meanwhile, lawyers are driving around in painted Corvettes with non-matching red interiors. Can we just jail all of these parasites ? I won't even talk about the emotional problems between ex-spouses thrown into this quagmire. Bunch of children.

  • Randall
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Brian Tobin privatized all but 13 of our provincial parks. It was a bad move. Our provincial parks provided employment and allowed people to enjoy the parks at a reasonable cost. These parks were not established to turn a profit. This park's roads are in bad shape from lack of maintanence, the brush is overtaking the roads and trails, and the swimmimg area has a huge ugly hole dug into the woods with an excavator. Its a downright shame what has happened to this once beautiful park. Thanks Brian.

  • tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    It seems that both have made a lot of money on this. I wonder if they set this up between them. The only ones that seem to be losing are the ones that invested their hard earned money and time to make a place for them to enjoy there vacation in NL. I visited Backside Pond severial years ago and this summer had the opertunity to visit again. I was amazed with the differance and compliment the people that had their sites done so nice. I have visited parks all over Canada and the US and haven't seen a prettier park anywhere.

  • c
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    ms. charlene johnson, where are you? as minister of lands, and a member of this area, why don't you step in and do something? forget about Singer and Fitzgerald and do something for the campers who inproved this park. I camped there when it was backside pond and Singer did nothing to improve the park only took our money. However, I camp there last year and it was a huge improvement. Most of the improvement was done by the members. The park was well maintained and staff was courteous and mannerly a huge improvement over when it was called backside pond. The area stores will really be hurt if this park is not open this season as campers spend money in the community

  • frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    This leaves a sour taste for tourists who may wish to drop by this wonderful community. I think Mr. Jackman has a role to play in getting this matter under control..

    I don,t think any one person should own a parksite or ponds around our province.
    I experienced a situation like this in Quebec where an americian Indian came to the landmark and said it was his grand-fathers land. The people who leased or bought the land had been living there for over fifty years. Some burnt their cottages, others stayed and fought the battles. In the end the gouvernment took over the land and charged the owner back taxes, plus the landmark was taxed by the gouvernment yearly.

    This is obviously a battle between two friends whose agreement went sour. The gouvernment of Newfoundland and Labrador should do an assessmeny of other landmarks that are owned by people who have also taken over rights to ponds surrounding it.. This should not be..

    Frank Blackwood
    Richmond Hill,
    Ontario

  • K
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I think that something should be done about this awful mess! Government should stay out of it, if they privatized the campground, well then live with it. If Mr. Fitzgerald has not paid Mr. Singer for the campground, what's the issue! If you had a house and you thought you sold it and the deal fell through , you obviously still own it at the end of the day. Da! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

  • lap
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I hope these 2 men reach some kind of an agreement, and things will be settled soon for May 24 weekend, for those who do like camping. As for people peeing purple pee..My business went under due to the recession 2 yrs ago and we are only getting back on our feet now. Let's hope you don't go bankrupt or lose your job or you will be doing more than peeing purple!!!!

  • J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    My family and I camped at Backside Campground for years and we have only good words to say about the campground and how it was operated. We felt safe while we camped there and the grounds were always neat and tidy. As for the owner Mr. Singer, he was polite and curteous to us, as well the staff were very polite.

  • steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    sounds like a real nice atmosphere to just get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life????

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I should go see a doctor because my heart just peed purple pee over this story.

  • a camper
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    i camped at the park when it was a provincial park.it was clean and the staff were polite,professional and kind.it was a pleasure to stay there.then there was mr.singer!i saw him as arrogant,ignorant and miserable.he turned many people from the park.the park attendance went down the tubes.now that another gentleman has revived it,singer wants his claws into it again.singer.go back under the rock you crawled out from.

  • d
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Just to add a note the people who were kicked out when Ian took over after going to this parkbefore it was .... ROCK were given nothing. So to the people who invested BAD MONEY DECISION I'd say . Maybe the president of the U.S. can bail you out. THis story isn't worth much, yrs ago I bought insurance and the company went bankrupt and I lost my money to. SAD part of life call it a learning curve.

  • jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    the government should take it back to reopen it as a provincial park seeing there is only 2 parks open on the east coast .

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    This is a story that may stir up interest in a subject dear to me.The Government could clear this up swiftly,or as swiftly as the remaining years on the landhold lease issued for the land in question.As for the infrastucture,that would have to be thank you very much.
    There are many areas across this province that are beautiful pieces of property,some carry historic merit and others for their scenic value.This land was leased by a government to many fair and kind ,out there trying to make a go of it.But hey lets face it parks are not the smartest choice to take for making a profit or go of it,very seasonal and the costs of upkeep and ever increasing infastructure are costly.Why some of the biggest parks in Newfoundland or Canada for that matter do not make profit.
    Who owns this property now,the lease holders or all of us?
    A park by definition is.A large area known for its natural scenery and preserved for public recreation by government.When used in this context.
    My biggest fear is that some day,important areas will become the property of private individuals.This whole Provincial Parks thing should be looked at.Some of the parks were put there over the years for different reasons , a few of them are among the first,history.Boost employment open more Provincial Parks,not new ones,negotiate the old ones back.Parks as a rule never turn profit without a casino or something and then it is no longer a park.

  • E
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    We grew up going to this campground when it was a provincal park and when it became a private park and owned by Mr. Singer, we took our children there. We would love to go to the tenting area down by the beach. When the campground was taken over by NL RV two years ago, we were not welcome as tenting was not something that was offered as part of the Resort. Too bad, at least when Mr. Singer ran the campground, he allowed tenting and day use.

  • Skeptical
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Shag Rock... aptly named.

    Sounds like an enclave of willing serfs being fought over by minor feudal lords.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    What a Scam!! I don't care how much disposable income you have. Who in there right mind would give an infant company starting out $10000 bucks for campsite rights. To these people you made a BAD financial decision and that's it! Too Bad! I agree with Jenkins above; the court will straighten this out and there will be new proprietors. As for these parties engaging in a public mud slinging match....Well, you are an embarrassment and likely the only people who will truely gain from this is your business partners, i mean your lawyers! in there painted corvettes and non matching interiors. St.John's is too small for the public not to discover who all the parties involved here are. Likely the law society will discover these parties as well, my understanding is that the law society has a code of ethics which lawyers are expected to abide by........time to re-read your oath when you were called to the bar Children!

  • Merv
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    What an ugly name for such a beautiful
    park. Byt the way does anyone back there currently know what the name
    shag stands for?.. Just wondering...
    Its one ugly bird that occasionally flies
    into Newfoundland...Danny, take the
    parrk back and start from square one.

  • L
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    I think it is awful what is going on here. It sounds like Mr. Fitzgerald did a number on a lot of innocent people at least 50 innocent campers and one innocent man, Mr. Singer. It seems as if Mr. Fitzgerald is quite the salesman and did a number on all involved. These people believed that this man would honor the deal he made with them. Where is the justice in this? How come the NL government are involved? If the sale of the crown lease didn't occur, doesn't it make sense that Mr. Singer still owns the lease?

    • Tony
      July 13, 2012 - 19:40

      Once a crook, hard to change stripes! Mr Fitzgerald leaves a trail all across Canada - how ironic that he is still able to con innocent people in his own backyard... hope he enjoys the small world he has to live in now

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    This is a story that's point of interest is really only a small group, however it has certainly stirred up some very broad points of view in the comments left by readers. I have read the article and all the comments twice.
    I also inquired over the last two days with people who are in the loop with this story and who I believed could give me more unbiased information than what the article provides.
    This story certainly does run deeper than the text we read above and I believe the Telegram will likely carry a follow up article subsequent to the one above, as more details become available by further investigation.
    This story is really between two greedy entrepreneurs who thought a public forum would bolster each of their claims more secure than the other.
    Well fortunately the readership has certainly voiced their views in the comments section, and all seem to feel both should be terminated from any further dealings with this park.
    One must ask the question, What would a reasonable person think if presented with a particular situation? , well I believe there are 22 reasonable responses above to a situation and I think government should listen to the voice of the people. Either find new ownership or reopen this as a Provincial Park so the people of the province can once again enjoy this area for what it really is.
    Sorry Mr. Singer and Mr. Fitzgerald,
    I don't belive after this story anyone will want to drive through those gates and pass you a single nickle to stay in your park.
    You both likely just committed Small Business Suicide, best to just Move On!
    To those who invested up to ten thousand or more or less, it was a bad investment. Weigh your loss against future legal bills before you take up the Good Fight. The only winners here truely are only going to be the Lawyers.
    Mike

  • Here's
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    You would think that Danny Williams would step in and expropriate the land, then turn around and sell it back at a profit as a Provincial corporation.

    He seems to like taking things from other. Guess thats what comes from the bullied becoming the bully, he can not play well with others and has shown it time and time again.

    So please Danny, take this as well for the Province. Then have your friends charge us all more to use our assets.

  • *Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    i'm having a bitter dispute with my neighbour's straying cat,can we put that in the telegram?

  • Friend of Newfoundland
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Once again I see my people allow government to watch this mess that they somewhat created. Created when individuals were handed these tremenduously valuable properties. Properties that belonged to the people and paid for by the people. Then those same people were given no say in the ultimate demise of the Provincial Parks. Backside Pond is just one example. I would like to know the stats of all the other once Provincial Parks and their condition today compared to what they once were. Also whether those who originally took over the parks are still there. That Mr. Editor would be an interesting read. As for Singer and Fitzgerald they are the least of my concern. Now Mr Williams , lets see you step up to the plate on this one .

  • S
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    I think this park should not be allowed to go back into the hands of Ian Fitzgerald. I camped at this park before it was taken over by Mr. Fitzgerald and I was guarenteed that I would have the same spot I have had pervious years but as soon as Ian took over, I was 1 of the first ones to be kicked out of the park. All due to the fact that I had expressed my opinion of having to pay such a large amount of money for a piece of property that I would never own. Mr. Fitzgerald even went as far as accusing me of threatening him, he inturn then called other campers of the park to tell them that he was kicking me out of the park before he even notified me. I had to hear of my eviction from another camper. So you tell me, How professional is that? Ian Fitzgerald is fine as along as you agree with him but try and express your opionion, and your in his bad books and he then wants no dealings with you. From the first time I spoke to Ian I knew that this day would come and now I am sitting back and laughing at it all.

  • Colleen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    First of all, I have nothing personal to gain by any decision made on the Backside Park matter. I am simply a resident of the area that has watched how this deal went down from the beginning. This is just another twist in a bad deal that began when the government decided to privatize some provincial parks. It seems Mr. Singer was able to acquire this park for next to nothing, a park that was developed using our tax dollars. I am shocked to think that this man is able to sell this park for 1 million dollars to be put in his own bank account. After Mr. Singer took over the park there was little or no work done to improve or even maintain the park and occupancy supposedly declined. Mr. Fitzgerald's concept of a residential operated park seemed to be a great way to bring life back to a formerly popular camping attraction. The improvements were desperately needed to recapture the camping market and the park really began to look as though it would once again be a popular camping destination. This would in turn help to bring economic prosperity to an outport region. From my perspective, the optimal solution would be to turn the park back to government to sell to a developer allowing the return of tax dollars to the provincial purse. People who purchased lots should still receive some type of worth in future development of the park. It is obvious in the business world that if you personally invest in a venture, you will work tirelessly to ensure it is successful.

  • Marcus
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    I mean really!! Who in the Hell is Ian Fitzgerald's lawyer?? Allowing him to spend $357,000 dollars on a piece of property that he hadn't LEGALLY ACQUIRED!! Can the Telegram Publish this infromation so others can not fall victim to the same incompetent who fails to Pay Attention to DETAILS!!!

  • j
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    I guess these campers are feeling the same lost as we did 2 yrs when NLRV took over and kicked us out cause we didn't have the 10,000. These people are upset they are out there money and the lost of 2 yrs some of the orginal campers had been there for decades can you imagine there lost!!!!

  • CHRIS
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    We too camped at this park when our kids were small. Mr Singer was rude and we never saw any improvements to the park since he took over.
    All you see in this story is greed. Take the park Back Danny ..put it in the hands of the Government and allow Newfoundlanders to enjoy it as it should be.. not run down as it has become.

  • S
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    It is my understanding from reading this acticle, that the Supreme Court of Newfoundland supported a position that the ammended lease that was issued by the Government to NL RV was illegal because a sale had never been completed. Is there anything being done by the RCMP or any other legal authories in terms of an investigation on this to determine if this indeed was illegal?

  • kate
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    seems quite typical of previous nl. goverments to award this provinical park to a non newfoundlander. and such a prime location just 1 hr from the capital. 422 hectares what a bargin . No wonder there is so many newfie jokes going around about us. Singer must of laughed all the way to the bank.

  • Brian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    With all due respect to those involved,
    why would this minor business story that involves a few people warrant front page banner coverage. Who cares? With all the goings on in today's world, it amazes me at times to see where The Telegram places it's priorities.

  • Disgusted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    This is truly a story of greed and nothing more. My children loved swimming at Backside park and did so for many years when it was a provincial park. Now they have to pay to get in to swim in the pond - so not only did someone buy the park but the pond as well! It is a profound loss for the residents in nearby communities. No longer are the children in these communities welcomed as they contribute little to the pockets of greedy people like Singer.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Clearly the Courts have one option here to fix this mess.
    The call for new proposals is necessary. With that said, starting a clean slate, Mr.Fitzgerald Can Be the first in line to apply but it's likely a more backed, suited consortium of individuals would present themselves, (especially after his $350,000 personal investment, which the property has swallowed up) and likely be awarded the Crown Land enterprise.
    On it's face This is an interesting article, however the issues and players including other lawyers run deeper than meets the eye. Hopefully the Telegram will continue to follow this story as it unfolds and continue to investigate any other Shadow Partners and there interests to this property. In the mean time Campers should find alternate arrangements this year and watch this battle emblaze from the sidelines, this is one not to rush before the beginning of this Season. This arguement should be settled Right one time only and it's then likely the seasonal livyers will have Brand New sensible ownership for there surrogate community. A question the Telegram may wish to answer first for it's readers is, Who are the Shadow Lawyers who have financial interest and ties to this deal?? Skullduggery like this is common in there breed.

  • Corey Trevor
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Its too bad the politically connected can get their hands on publicly built, owned and developed infrastructure, and turn it into their own personal playground to enjoy as they see fit.

  • July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Based on this article, it seems Fitzgerald and Singer have selfishly approached The Telegram to engage in a public mud-slinging contest to discredit each other. But all they have accomplished is to discredit themselves in front of friends, family and neighbours with this dirty laundry. The government, Clyde Jackman, has shown poor governance (oxymoron - in which the second half aptly describes Jackman) in this issue by making unfounded promises. Meanwhile, lawyers are driving around in painted Corvettes with non-matching red interiors. Can we just jail all of these parasites ? I won't even talk about the emotional problems between ex-spouses thrown into this quagmire. Bunch of children.

  • Randall
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Brian Tobin privatized all but 13 of our provincial parks. It was a bad move. Our provincial parks provided employment and allowed people to enjoy the parks at a reasonable cost. These parks were not established to turn a profit. This park's roads are in bad shape from lack of maintanence, the brush is overtaking the roads and trails, and the swimmimg area has a huge ugly hole dug into the woods with an excavator. Its a downright shame what has happened to this once beautiful park. Thanks Brian.

  • tom
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    It seems that both have made a lot of money on this. I wonder if they set this up between them. The only ones that seem to be losing are the ones that invested their hard earned money and time to make a place for them to enjoy there vacation in NL. I visited Backside Pond severial years ago and this summer had the opertunity to visit again. I was amazed with the differance and compliment the people that had their sites done so nice. I have visited parks all over Canada and the US and haven't seen a prettier park anywhere.

  • c
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    ms. charlene johnson, where are you? as minister of lands, and a member of this area, why don't you step in and do something? forget about Singer and Fitzgerald and do something for the campers who inproved this park. I camped there when it was backside pond and Singer did nothing to improve the park only took our money. However, I camp there last year and it was a huge improvement. Most of the improvement was done by the members. The park was well maintained and staff was courteous and mannerly a huge improvement over when it was called backside pond. The area stores will really be hurt if this park is not open this season as campers spend money in the community

  • frank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    This leaves a sour taste for tourists who may wish to drop by this wonderful community. I think Mr. Jackman has a role to play in getting this matter under control..

    I don,t think any one person should own a parksite or ponds around our province.
    I experienced a situation like this in Quebec where an americian Indian came to the landmark and said it was his grand-fathers land. The people who leased or bought the land had been living there for over fifty years. Some burnt their cottages, others stayed and fought the battles. In the end the gouvernment took over the land and charged the owner back taxes, plus the landmark was taxed by the gouvernment yearly.

    This is obviously a battle between two friends whose agreement went sour. The gouvernment of Newfoundland and Labrador should do an assessmeny of other landmarks that are owned by people who have also taken over rights to ponds surrounding it.. This should not be..

    Frank Blackwood
    Richmond Hill,
    Ontario

  • K
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    I think that something should be done about this awful mess! Government should stay out of it, if they privatized the campground, well then live with it. If Mr. Fitzgerald has not paid Mr. Singer for the campground, what's the issue! If you had a house and you thought you sold it and the deal fell through , you obviously still own it at the end of the day. Da! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

  • lap
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    I hope these 2 men reach some kind of an agreement, and things will be settled soon for May 24 weekend, for those who do like camping. As for people peeing purple pee..My business went under due to the recession 2 yrs ago and we are only getting back on our feet now. Let's hope you don't go bankrupt or lose your job or you will be doing more than peeing purple!!!!

  • J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    My family and I camped at Backside Campground for years and we have only good words to say about the campground and how it was operated. We felt safe while we camped there and the grounds were always neat and tidy. As for the owner Mr. Singer, he was polite and curteous to us, as well the staff were very polite.

  • steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    sounds like a real nice atmosphere to just get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life????

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I should go see a doctor because my heart just peed purple pee over this story.

  • a camper
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    i camped at the park when it was a provincial park.it was clean and the staff were polite,professional and kind.it was a pleasure to stay there.then there was mr.singer!i saw him as arrogant,ignorant and miserable.he turned many people from the park.the park attendance went down the tubes.now that another gentleman has revived it,singer wants his claws into it again.singer.go back under the rock you crawled out from.

  • d
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Just to add a note the people who were kicked out when Ian took over after going to this parkbefore it was .... ROCK were given nothing. So to the people who invested BAD MONEY DECISION I'd say . Maybe the president of the U.S. can bail you out. THis story isn't worth much, yrs ago I bought insurance and the company went bankrupt and I lost my money to. SAD part of life call it a learning curve.

  • jim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    the government should take it back to reopen it as a provincial park seeing there is only 2 parks open on the east coast .

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    This is a story that may stir up interest in a subject dear to me.The Government could clear this up swiftly,or as swiftly as the remaining years on the landhold lease issued for the land in question.As for the infrastucture,that would have to be thank you very much.
    There are many areas across this province that are beautiful pieces of property,some carry historic merit and others for their scenic value.This land was leased by a government to many fair and kind ,out there trying to make a go of it.But hey lets face it parks are not the smartest choice to take for making a profit or go of it,very seasonal and the costs of upkeep and ever increasing infastructure are costly.Why some of the biggest parks in Newfoundland or Canada for that matter do not make profit.
    Who owns this property now,the lease holders or all of us?
    A park by definition is.A large area known for its natural scenery and preserved for public recreation by government.When used in this context.
    My biggest fear is that some day,important areas will become the property of private individuals.This whole Provincial Parks thing should be looked at.Some of the parks were put there over the years for different reasons , a few of them are among the first,history.Boost employment open more Provincial Parks,not new ones,negotiate the old ones back.Parks as a rule never turn profit without a casino or something and then it is no longer a park.

  • E
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    We grew up going to this campground when it was a provincal park and when it became a private park and owned by Mr. Singer, we took our children there. We would love to go to the tenting area down by the beach. When the campground was taken over by NL RV two years ago, we were not welcome as tenting was not something that was offered as part of the Resort. Too bad, at least when Mr. Singer ran the campground, he allowed tenting and day use.

  • Skeptical
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Shag Rock... aptly named.

    Sounds like an enclave of willing serfs being fought over by minor feudal lords.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    What a Scam!! I don't care how much disposable income you have. Who in there right mind would give an infant company starting out $10000 bucks for campsite rights. To these people you made a BAD financial decision and that's it! Too Bad! I agree with Jenkins above; the court will straighten this out and there will be new proprietors. As for these parties engaging in a public mud slinging match....Well, you are an embarrassment and likely the only people who will truely gain from this is your business partners, i mean your lawyers! in there painted corvettes and non matching interiors. St.John's is too small for the public not to discover who all the parties involved here are. Likely the law society will discover these parties as well, my understanding is that the law society has a code of ethics which lawyers are expected to abide by........time to re-read your oath when you were called to the bar Children!

  • Merv
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    What an ugly name for such a beautiful
    park. Byt the way does anyone back there currently know what the name
    shag stands for?.. Just wondering...
    Its one ugly bird that occasionally flies
    into Newfoundland...Danny, take the
    parrk back and start from square one.

  • L
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I think it is awful what is going on here. It sounds like Mr. Fitzgerald did a number on a lot of innocent people at least 50 innocent campers and one innocent man, Mr. Singer. It seems as if Mr. Fitzgerald is quite the salesman and did a number on all involved. These people believed that this man would honor the deal he made with them. Where is the justice in this? How come the NL government are involved? If the sale of the crown lease didn't occur, doesn't it make sense that Mr. Singer still owns the lease?

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    This is a story that's point of interest is really only a small group, however it has certainly stirred up some very broad points of view in the comments left by readers. I have read the article and all the comments twice.
    I also inquired over the last two days with people who are in the loop with this story and who I believed could give me more unbiased information than what the article provides.
    This story certainly does run deeper than the text we read above and I believe the Telegram will likely carry a follow up article subsequent to the one above, as more details become available by further investigation.
    This story is really between two greedy entrepreneurs who thought a public forum would bolster each of their claims more secure than the other.
    Well fortunately the readership has certainly voiced their views in the comments section, and all seem to feel both should be terminated from any further dealings with this park.
    One must ask the question, What would a reasonable person think if presented with a particular situation? , well I believe there are 22 reasonable responses above to a situation and I think government should listen to the voice of the people. Either find new ownership or reopen this as a Provincial Park so the people of the province can once again enjoy this area for what it really is.
    Sorry Mr. Singer and Mr. Fitzgerald,
    I don't belive after this story anyone will want to drive through those gates and pass you a single nickle to stay in your park.
    You both likely just committed Small Business Suicide, best to just Move On!
    To those who invested up to ten thousand or more or less, it was a bad investment. Weigh your loss against future legal bills before you take up the Good Fight. The only winners here truely are only going to be the Lawyers.
    Mike

  • Here's
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    You would think that Danny Williams would step in and expropriate the land, then turn around and sell it back at a profit as a Provincial corporation.

    He seems to like taking things from other. Guess thats what comes from the bullied becoming the bully, he can not play well with others and has shown it time and time again.

    So please Danny, take this as well for the Province. Then have your friends charge us all more to use our assets.

  • *Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    i'm having a bitter dispute with my neighbour's straying cat,can we put that in the telegram?

  • Friend of Newfoundland
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Once again I see my people allow government to watch this mess that they somewhat created. Created when individuals were handed these tremenduously valuable properties. Properties that belonged to the people and paid for by the people. Then those same people were given no say in the ultimate demise of the Provincial Parks. Backside Pond is just one example. I would like to know the stats of all the other once Provincial Parks and their condition today compared to what they once were. Also whether those who originally took over the parks are still there. That Mr. Editor would be an interesting read. As for Singer and Fitzgerald they are the least of my concern. Now Mr Williams , lets see you step up to the plate on this one .

  • S
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    I think this park should not be allowed to go back into the hands of Ian Fitzgerald. I camped at this park before it was taken over by Mr. Fitzgerald and I was guarenteed that I would have the same spot I have had pervious years but as soon as Ian took over, I was 1 of the first ones to be kicked out of the park. All due to the fact that I had expressed my opinion of having to pay such a large amount of money for a piece of property that I would never own. Mr. Fitzgerald even went as far as accusing me of threatening him, he inturn then called other campers of the park to tell them that he was kicking me out of the park before he even notified me. I had to hear of my eviction from another camper. So you tell me, How professional is that? Ian Fitzgerald is fine as along as you agree with him but try and express your opionion, and your in his bad books and he then wants no dealings with you. From the first time I spoke to Ian I knew that this day would come and now I am sitting back and laughing at it all.

  • Colleen
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    First of all, I have nothing personal to gain by any decision made on the Backside Park matter. I am simply a resident of the area that has watched how this deal went down from the beginning. This is just another twist in a bad deal that began when the government decided to privatize some provincial parks. It seems Mr. Singer was able to acquire this park for next to nothing, a park that was developed using our tax dollars. I am shocked to think that this man is able to sell this park for 1 million dollars to be put in his own bank account. After Mr. Singer took over the park there was little or no work done to improve or even maintain the park and occupancy supposedly declined. Mr. Fitzgerald's concept of a residential operated park seemed to be a great way to bring life back to a formerly popular camping attraction. The improvements were desperately needed to recapture the camping market and the park really began to look as though it would once again be a popular camping destination. This would in turn help to bring economic prosperity to an outport region. From my perspective, the optimal solution would be to turn the park back to government to sell to a developer allowing the return of tax dollars to the provincial purse. People who purchased lots should still receive some type of worth in future development of the park. It is obvious in the business world that if you personally invest in a venture, you will work tirelessly to ensure it is successful.

  • Marcus
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    I mean really!! Who in the Hell is Ian Fitzgerald's lawyer?? Allowing him to spend $357,000 dollars on a piece of property that he hadn't LEGALLY ACQUIRED!! Can the Telegram Publish this infromation so others can not fall victim to the same incompetent who fails to Pay Attention to DETAILS!!!

    • FORMER CAMPER
      May 26, 2011 - 10:15

      READ THE ARTICIAL, HIS LAWYERS NAME IS IN IT.