County would sell Heritage Square under latest land swap proposal

JCOS proposing land swap with Martin Marietta Materials

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/17/20

Jefferson County Open Space wants to move forward with a proposed land swap involving Heritage Square and some of the surrounding hillside, even though it might not be feasible to turn the former …

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County would sell Heritage Square under latest land swap proposal

JCOS proposing land swap with Martin Marietta Materials

Posted

Jefferson County Open Space wants to move forward with a proposed land swap involving Heritage Square and some of the surrounding hillside, even though it might not be feasible to turn the former tourist attraction into an open space park.

The land swap deal would be with Martin Marietta Materials, which owns Heritage Square and surrounding properties, including a gravel mine next door.

“When we were doing an analysis of Jeffco Heritage Park we realized infrastructure and buildout was probably going to be in the $30-$35 million range for us to do it and that's just not something we can take on in addition to the land value we would be losing,” JCOS Director Tom Hoby said.

Instead, Hoby said the county is now proposing to acquire the property through the swap and then sell it to someone who would develop it into something that is “compatible with the surrounding uses of the site.” The county would then use the funds raised from the sale of the site, which Hoby said the county has valued at $15 million, to fund the future acquisition of additional open space lands.

At the first of two public meetings held about the proposed land swap, Hoby and JCOS Deputy Director Hilary Merritt said that the proposed land swap would involve the exchange of 64.02 acres of Jeffco Open Space property for 131 acres of Martin Marietta Property. In addition to the property, JCOS would also receive cash payments totaling $4.55 million.

The 64.02 acres of open space property that would be received by Martin Marietta is a portion of Matthews/Winters Park that is located directly south of Martin Marietta's Specification/Aggregate mine. Martin Marietta's mining operations would be expanded to that area. As mining is completed, the land would be reclaimed and the county would have the option of taking it back at no cost once mining is complete.

In exchange, the county would receive the Heritage Square amusement park site — a 15.39 acre parcel that used to include a carnival, theater, shopping area, and alpine slide — the 5.69 acre Bachman Farm site and the 53.67 acre Magic Mountain reservoir site once mining operations are completed there.

The Bachman farm, which is valued at $2.6 million, would be deeded to the city of Golden with attached requirements that it be used for a park. The alpine slide parcel, meanwhile, could eventually be added to Apex Park and used for a new trail.

“If you were here last week (during the Apex Park meeting)then you know a new trail is something that is in high need there,” Merritt said during the meeting.

Hoby also responded to several concerns about the proposal that had previously been raised by the community. Hoby said that while the mining operations would have an aesthetic impact on the mountainside, the mine has long operated there and it makes more sense for such mining to continue at that location than be moved to a new site where it would be more disruptive.

Hoby also said the plan could have impact on elk and other animals, but the county could seek to mitigate those impacts by acquiring new open space lands that could be preserved for wildlife. The director also said that while it would be unrealistic for JCOS to maintain what is left of Heritage Square, which has mostly been torn down, the county could ask developers to address celebrating the legacy of Heritage Square in their development plans.

“I think that's the best we can do at this point,” Hoby said. “I don't think we want to be in the business of rebuilding an amusement park.”

The county would seek health and outdoor industry related development for the Heritage Square site, Hoby said. A deed restriction would not allow residential development or car dealerships there.

Peter Morales, the president of PlanJeffco organization that established the Open Space program, said he was in support of the plan.

“You do have to take the long term view and we believe that JCOS will end up with additional acreage that could be added to Apex Park or otherwise,” Morales said.

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