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A dispute between Heritage Amusement Park and Martin Marietta is headed to arbitration later this month, with the future of the property on the line.
The arbitration process between the park owner and the property ownership began on June 15, and was continued to Oct. 18-20. Alan Bader, owner of Heritage Amusement Park and Garden Grill, 18301 W. Colfax Ave., called for the arbitration.
“I am fighting for our existence and for my family with a nod to all local and small businesses in Colorado,” Bader said.
Peter Bovis with Martin Marietta issued the following statement:
“The amusement park demanded an arbitration of issues under its lease with Martin Marietta. Martin Marietta responded with its own claims to be arbitrated. Those issues are now being resolved in a private arbitration process, so Martin Marietta is not free to comment further on the issues or the process.”
Heritage Square, a longtime entertainment and tourist destination, opened in 1971.
Bader's lease for the Garden Grill began in February 1998 and the amusement park's lease began in March 1999, according to court documents.
Martin Marietta bought the former Heritage Square property in December 2011 and in February 2015 announced plans to close the square. By November of that year most of the businesses whose leases had expired had closed. However, Bader's leases for Heritage Amusement Park and The Garden Grill restaurant don't expire until 2039.
Demolition of the structures at Heritage Square began early in 2016. Bader argues that the process did not give “any regard to the fact that the amusement park and the restaurant were continuing in business.”
An arbitration brief provided by Bader states that disruptive demolition included common area restrooms including the only ADA-accessible restroom, elimination of parking areas and failure to maintain common areas. Additionally, there were disruptions in the water, electrical and internet services.
“The construction caused significant disruption to the operation of the amusement park and the restaurant. Construction fencing gave the impression that both were closed,” the brief states.
Heritage Square signage was removed, and, on Martin Marietta's request, the word "Square" was dropped from Heritage Amusement Park's name.
Bader argues that “all of these actions, taken together, caused decrease in revenues.”
In March this year, Martin Marietta filed an action in the Jefferson County courts seeking to evict the amusement park.
According to those court documents, Martin Marietta served Bader with a notice of default on Dec. 27, 2016, that alleged breaches of his leases.
The alleged breaches listed are: failure to maintain the premises; failure to operate the premises in compliance with applicable laws, codes, rules and regulations, resulting in numerous serious safety concerns; unauthorized alterations to premises; use and storage of hazardous materials; and trademark infringement.
The arbitration briefing states that “there have been few, if any, incidents regarding safety of the rides and the amusement park has passed all state and insurance inspections since it opened.”
On Feb. 24, Martin Marietta provided written notice that the leases would be terminated if a three-day demand for compliance was not met.
However, the arbitration briefing states that Martin Marietta “ultimately agreed that the eviction claims would be consolidated and be included as part of the arbitration.”
Bader's arbitration is being handled by the Judicial Arbiter Group in Denver. The arbitrator will make a decision after all of the evidence is concluded, and can enter an award in favor of Bader for damages or an award in favor of Martin Marietta and potentially evict Bader.
Martin Marietta has yet to publicly lay out what plans the company may have for the former amusement park. The land is adjacent to a Jefferson County Open Space park, and nearby industrial operations.
Heritage Amusement Park and The Garden Grill provide 100 jobs to teens each summer, Bader said.
“Families love our small-business atmosphere and our special location away from it all in Golden,” he said. “We are a good citizen, donate thousands of dollars each year to charity in passes and cash, maintain reasonable pricing and try and do the right thing in the community.”
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