BISMARCK, N.D. — The site of a popular highway sculpture in southwest North Dakota has been closed to the public after new landowners disputed the site’s liability and the sculptor’s lease.
Seth and Kayla O’Donnell purchased a 28-acre parcel in February that included the site of “Geese in Flight,” the 110-foot tall statue along the Enchanted Highway, the Bismarck Tribune reported .
The O’Donnells fenced the sculpture’s access road off in July and argued that the site’s liability is unclear. Court documents show the couple said the sculpture is unsafe and attracts trespassers.
Sculptor Gary Greff sued the couple over the road closure last summer. Greff signed a land lease agreement in 2002 with former landowners Douglas and Keith Candee for a 20-year lease for “Geese in Flight.”
Greff said the O’Donnells don’t acknowledge his lease.
“They don’t want to honor the lease as is, and basically we want the land so I don’t have to go through this again,” Greff said. He said he turned down their offer to buy the land at $30,000 per acre.
The couple didn’t return the newspaper’s phone calls seeking comment.
Southwest District Judge William Herauf granted Greff a preliminary injunction for maintenance access to the site in November. The judge also ordered Greff to list the O’Donnells on a $2 million commercial liability insurance policy for the site.
Greff said the trial in March will resolve the lease dispute. But if he’s forced to move the sculpture, Greff said he’ll likely appeal.
He said “Geese in Flight” has garnered significant attention in the 15 years since its installation.
“There’s got to be a way that the landowners can give us a share or piece of the land,” Greff said.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com