Jeff Cameron longs for simpler days. The Stillwater man romances about the fair weather nights when his family listened to the orchestra of bullfrogs croaking from the retention pond behind their suburban abode.
"It was a virtual symphony," says Cameron, "and one of the unique features of living here."
Those days are consigned to history now. Cul-de-sac peace has been deposed by tract housing bitterness. Cameron blames neighbor Bill McGlynn and his pond skating rink.
"[McGlynn is] an idiot," Cameron says. "He knows what he's doing is wrong."
Cameron's beef stems from a tear-shaped holding pond within the Millbrook subdivision. More than a dozen plush pads surround it. Many winters ago, neighbors turned the pond into a community skating rink. Three years back, according to Cameron, McGlynn took it upon himself to flood the pond — with chlorinated city water no less. As the pond's popularity has grown, so have the amenities. Cameron says lights have been erected, benches flank the ice, and sometimes there are bonfires.
Cameron says he can live with the quality of life violations. It's the insult toward Mother Nature he can't stand for.
"We had a spotted salamander, an endangered species, down at the pond before," he says. "There were thousands of frogs, giant snapping turtles, otters as well. There was even a beaver that came around every once in awhile. Now, it's a dead lake. They're all gone thanks to him. ... My main issue is it's not his land. He doesn't have the right to destroy it."
According to neighbor Larry Odebrecht, whose property also abuts the pond, Millbrook's home owner's association owns the area and its bylaws permit wintertime recreation. Cameron's research suggests otherwise. He claims the water body, which feeds into nearby Brown's Creek, is a protected wetland under DNR governance.
"I've contacted as many authorities as I can," he says. "We're waiting to see what they can do."
Meanwhile, the dispute isn't getting any prettier.
Unidentified vandals dumped sand on the rink late last month. Cameron claims he and his wife have received death threats and family friends have been harassed. He also says when he approached McGlynn to settle the issue long ago, his civil overtures were rebuffed.
"[McGlynn] said it's the Minnesota way, that this is how things work here," says Cameron. "He told my wife to shut her bitch mouth. He's extremely ignorant. He thinks he can do whatever he wants. All he and the rest of these people care about is their selfishness. It's ridiculous and no one seems to care. This has gotten crazy, them telling wildlife to go fuck themselves, that we should go make turtle soup."
McGlynn disputes Cameron's claims that the two ever had a previous conversation. In fact, McGlynn says he's never even spoke to Jeff Cameron. Moreover, McGlynn asserts in his only conversation with Mrs. Cameron he never swore or called her mean names.
"What I want people to know," says McGlynn, "as a father and a hockey coach in the Stillwater community, my only intention is for the kids to enjoy the outdoors and have fun skating on the pond."