Dispute headed for court

It certainly appears the discussions and negotiations between the Ward County Historical Society and the North Dakota State Fair Board concerning the future of Pioneer Village are over.

The board is firm in its position: The entire village must be moved, and soon, to make way for changes on the grounds that include a future convention center.

The historical society remains steadfast in its position: A 1966 contract gives the society permission to maintain and operate the village on the fairgrounds, and the society has neither the financial nor logistical ability to move the buildings that make up Pioneer Village.

Both sides seem resigned to the fact that the dispute is likely headed for court. State Fair Board member Neil Fleming said there was no point in continued negotiations “if their bottom line position is ‘we’re not moving’ and ours is ‘we want them out.’ “

Disagreements continue over whether the society has always asked for permission to move buildings onto the site in past years (the board says the society hasn’t always asked, a claim the society disputes), whether the village is being properly maintained, and why the board won’t allow a former country school house to be moved onto the site.

Unfortunately, this spat seems destined for court, which will only waste time and money for both sides. In the past, society members and fair board members have expressed a desire to cooperate to find a workable solution for both parties, but that’s no longer realistic given that there are really only two potential solutions should the issue eventually be decided by a judge:

1: The village must be moved.

2: The village is allowed to stay.

No matter the legal outcome, the issue will no doubt continue to grow increasingly contentious, and that’s certainly unfortunate. Barring any last-minute changes of heart, the next argument over the Pioneer Village’s future is likely to be heard in a courtroom.