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Judges Reject Attempt to Reverse Park Auction

June 9, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

The foreclosure of a Gouldsboro, Maine, campground has been upheld by an appellate panel of bankruptcy judges, but the former campground owner has indicated he plans to appeal the case to the federal 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. 

The bankruptcy appellate panel issued its ruling on May 28, James Brunton, former owner of Ocean Wood Campground, indicated in a recent e-mail to the Bangor Daily News

The decision upholds a March 3 foreclosure auction on the campground by Schoodic Point LLC, which claims it was owed more than $7 million by Brunton. 

No one offered the minimum bid of $5.5 million for the 148-acre oceanfront property at the auction, which prompted Schoodic Point LLC to take direct ownership of the campground. 

The campground, with its new owner, has opened for the 2009 season, according to a man who answered the phone Monday at the campground office. 

In an effort to fend off the property foreclosure, Brunton tried to file for bankruptcy in federal court in Bangor in February, but bankruptcy Judge Louis Kornreich dismissed the bid. 

Brunton claims he was in the process of securing refinancing of the property from another lender when the March 3 foreclosure auction was held. He said he filed for an automatic stay of the foreclosure auction on the morning of March 3, but that the stay was lifted by court order before he could present his refinancing options to a bankruptcy judge. 

Brunton is appealing the denial of his bankruptcy bid and the lifting of the stay to the federal appeals court in Boston. 

In a separate recent e-mail, John McVeigh, who represents Schoodic Point LLC, wrote that the bankruptcy appellate panel ruled that Brunton has lost all of his right to the property and that the notion that his filing for bankruptcy could undo his loss was without merit. 

“The (bankruptcy judge panel) denial in March was of a motion to stay the bankruptcy court order which allowed us to sell (the campground),” McVeigh wrote. “The new order is a denial of the entire appeal, on the same grounds.” 

Campground Would Benefit Panamanian Rain Forest 

Brunton has described his effort to retain ownership of the campground as a struggle to help save part of the Central American rain forest from destruction. 

Brunton has used the Gouldsboro property as collateral to secure loans for the Pajaro Jai Project, an organization he founded to help indigenous people of Panama learn how to benefit economically from the Darien rain forest in Panama without cutting it down. 

In a lengthy statement Brunton e-mailed to the Bangor Daily Newslast week, the computer software developer said that by selectively harvesting rain forest hardwoods for use in value-added items such as furniture and boats, the Panamanian natives can maximize their income from the forest while minimizing the environmental impact of cutting down trees. 

In 2006, Brunton and indigenous people from Panama sailed a ketch called the Pajaro Jai, which had been fashioned from trees in the Panamanian rain forest, up the Penobscot River as far as Hampden to draw attention to conservation efforts in Panama and the struggle of native people there to establish a sustainable future for themselves. 

The loss of the campground threatens the efforts of the environmental project in Panama, according to Brunton. 

“If it stands, this ruling will have profound implications for the Pajaro Jai Project since it will involve the loss of more than $4 million worth of equity which supports the project,” Brunton wrote in the statement. “The (Panamanian Indians) therefore plan to sail the Pajaro Jai to the United States this summer in order to find out for themselves why their mission apparently carried no weight in this matter. Hopefully, they will be heard.”

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