PERHAM -- The Jamestown Frontier Village probably isn’t coming to Perham’s Pioneer Village after all.
At Wednesday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Perham City Manager Jonathan Smith said a dispute between the City of Jamestown, N.D., and the Frontier Village board will keep the buildings in Jamestown.
Smith said the Frontier Village board was under the impression they owned everything on the site, but the City of Jamestown has disputed this claim.
“They have every intention to keep everything in Jamestown,” Smith said. “I can confidently say we’re not getting anything.”
A week ago Frontier Village officials said that arrangements had been made to have the Perham Pioneer Village, a nonprofit operated by the East Otter Tail County Historical Society, take the village's assets over a land dispute with the City of Jamestown.
Perham Economic Development Director Kevin Keil noted that Perham is still interested in the buildings, if Jamestown does decide to shutter the Frontier Village.
“We are not going to be Frontier Village, and we’re not getting the buffalo,” Smith said in reference to the world’s largest buffalo monument, which is at the Frontier Village.
Shirley Davidson, executive director of the History, Arts and Cultural Association, which oversees the Perham Pioneer Village, said Thursday she doesn't know what's going on. The last time Davidson heard from anyone representing the Frontier Village in Jamestown was three days earlier.
"I don't want to be in the fight," Davidson said. "I went in trying to get cool things to do, but I didn't go in trying to fight."
Earlier in the week, both Davidson and Smith told the Focus that verbal agreements were in place to receive the North Dakota tourist spot's assets.
“They have to vacate, and we have the space,” Davidson said on Monday morning. “What we don’t take they’re going to demolish.”
'A spoiled child': Reaction in Jamestown
Wednesday night, the Jamestown City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking the Frontier Village Association "pledge to do no harm and willingly turn over any and all assets of Frontier Village to the city of Jamestown."
The city and the association are embroiled in a dispute regarding the land lease where Frontier Village is located. Frontier Village Association issued an ultimatum that the city either renew the land lease by its Nov. 4 City Council meeting or Frontier Village Association would begin transferring its assets to Perham Pioneer Village.
The city is issuing a request for proposals for a new organization to lease and operate Frontier Village. The Frontier Village Association said it would not submit a proposal, calling it "an exercise in futility."
More than two dozen community members spoke about how important Frontier Village was to the community. Resident Jon Beyer characterized Frontier Village Association as a "spoiled child who would rather destroy toys than share them."
Others raised concerns on how they could get items back that were donated or loaned to Frontier Village in the past.
Monica Hieb, sister of former astronaut Rick Hieb, said she had no paperwork defining whether the artifacts of his time with NASA provided to Frontier Village were loaned or donated. She asked if she and her family would be arrested if she attempted to retrieve the items. Hieb said calls to Frontier Village Association board members Wednesday had not been returned.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said in his opening remarks that the issue of Frontier Village had generated more calls from the community than any other during his term as mayor.
"The actions of the Frontier Village Board have embarrassed themselves and our community," he said. "The responsibility, in the case of the Frontier Village Board, is a sacred trust to preserve our heritage, do no harm. They have not lived up to that standard."
Heinrich also said that he had been assured by the city of Perham that no items from Frontier Village had been transferred to the Perham Pioneer Village yet.