Monday, April 12, 2010

Island Hopes Whitewater Scandal Left No Scar

Adjoining the Roosevelt Campobello International Park and New Brunswick's Herring Cove Provincial Park is the rustic Lupine Lodge, which up until the end of last season offered accommodations and the island's only fine dining.

The estate was originally developed by a family of Roosevelt cousins, who used it as a getaway until the 1970s, when they turned it over to the New Brunswick Department of Tourism and Parks. Due to budget limitations, the Parks Department let the property sit empty and fall into disrepair until the 1980s, when a brash developer from Arkansas did a flyover and saw potential in the place.

Jim and Susan McDougal of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan and "Whitewater" fame bought 3000 acres on Campobello Island in the 80s. They built roads, cut lots and entered into an agreement with the New Brunswick government to develop the old Adams Estate in a full service resort, which they used to entertain friends, clients and potential buyers for their property development.

After the savings and loan crash and the dissolution of Madison Guaranty, a private corporation operated the resort under contract until 2009, when economic conditions and border procedures changed. Over the course of that year, a local non-profit was established to operate the lodge, which took over full management in August of 2009.

Then, without explanation and with only two days notice, the provincial government ended their contract with the Compass Institute in January 2010 and because it's now time for the local tourist economy to spring to life, the island's residents are getting concerned. After all, the lodge has traditionally employed about twenty people and it's estimated they do $60,000 in local purchasing, with the bulk going to the local grocer.

As of the March 26th edition of the Quoddy Times, the provincial government still had not announced any plans for the property and they've told local residents that the "process doesn't require" local input. Also prior to February, New Brunswick had held no discussions with the International Park, though now at least one meeting has occurred.

Unfortunately, beyond getting "official" answers from the various governmental bodies, the status of any negotiations or plans for the summer season are still completely unknown.
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