GARDINER – Former City Councilor George Trask has been told to stay away from the city public works garage — again.

City Manager Scott Morelli has ordered Trask not to enter the public works garage on Old Brunswick Road or speak to public works employees while on the job.

If Trask disregards the order, Morelli said he will initiate an investigation into the matter and contact the District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution as a criminal trespass or harassment violation.

Morelli declined to specify why Trask is being barred from a city building, other than to confirm a long-running battle between Trask and city Public Works Department Supervisor Chuck Applebee.

“The order states that Mr. Trask is not to engage in any course of conduct with the intent to harass, torment or threaten our public works employees, so I think the order speaks for itself,” Morelli said Friday.

“If this order is not respected, the city is prepared to seek other legal remedies,” Morelli said. “I hope it does not come to this.”

Trask was warned to stay away from the public works garage — unless accompanied by an escort — in a letter he received four years ago. Officials decided then that the city had become too informal about allowing public access to parts of city buildings in which unannounced visits by the public could put them in danger, or the city at risk of liability.

But — at least publicly — Trask seemed miffed at the new order, saying he’s been hanging out at the city Public Works Department for more than 20 years.

“These are my friends,” Trask said Friday. “I don’t harass my friends.”

Trask claims the order was issued because of his criticisms on and off the City Council of the way Applebee manages the department and the sewage treatment plant.

“This is untrue,” Morelli responded. “Our attorney would not have given me permission to issue this order had it been based on something as frivolous as a personal vendetta.”

Mayor Andrew MacLean said the City Council is aware of the issues surrounding Morelli’s action against Trask.

MacLean said Morelli is concerned that Trask’s continued presence is interfering with public works employees doing their job.

“It’s clear to any observer that Mr. Trask has a personal issue with Mr. Applebee,” MacLean said.

Trask said he has an attorney, but isn’t sure yet what he will do about the city’s order.

“I know that they feel I’ve got a vendetta, but that’s not the case,” Trask said. “I just want to know, as a taxpayer, where my money’s going.”

Morelli said Trask’s complaints are without merit and have been addressed and debunked multiple times, consuming large sums of staff time and financial resources in the process.