Land swap proposal a big deal for Jeffco Open Space

Mining will be extended but conservationists would score a win.

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/11/21

A large land swap deal being considered by Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (Martin Marietta) just came one step closer to getting done. Jefferson County Open …

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Land swap proposal a big deal for Jeffco Open Space

Mining will be extended but conservationists would score a win.

Posted

A large land swap deal being considered by Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) and Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (Martin Marietta) just came one step closer to getting done.

Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Committee unanimously passed Resolution 20-09, approving the acquisition of Centennial Cone Park/ Guy Gulch Property and recommending approval by the Board of County Commissioners.

The deal would add nearly 1,200 acres of open space land to Golden’s Centennial Cone Park and surrounding parks. 

The proposed deal came about in part, via Martin Marietta wanting to increase operations in its open-pit mine outside of Golden.

Matt Robbins, Community Connections Manager, explained the change that will net Jeffco Open Space more than 1000 additional acres compared to the original proposal.

According to Robbins, Martin Marietta originally approached JCOS to expand their mining operations onto around 64 acres of JCOS’s Matthews/Winters Park.

But JCOS is prohibited from giving up open space land without getting an equal or greater amount of land (or dollars) in exchange — and it has to be undeveloped land.

So, Martin Marietta proposed a deal offering select parcels of land to the north of the mine totaling 130 acres to JCOS in exchange for the 64 acres they needed to expand. 

One of those parcels was a roughly 60-acre plot where the Heritage Square amusement park and parking lot once stood. 

As JCOS was considering the deal, the Goltra family, large landholders in the county, contacted them about selling nearly 1200 acres of their Goltra Ranch property known as Guy Gulch to JCOS. The land that makes up Centennial Cone Park was originally sold to JCOS by the Goltra family as well. 

According to Robbins, the family was happy with the way the Centennial Cone Park deal had gone. They wanted to know the additional 1200 acres (they want to sell) would be protected from future development. 

Robbins said JCOS was interested in acquiring the land but didn’t have the funds to make the deal. Initially, they planned to raise the money by selling off the amusement park/parking lot site from the proposed Martin Marietta deal.

He said they could have done that, but it’s something (selling commercial real estate) they don’t normally do. 

So, a new plan was formed. 

JCOS pitched Martin Marietta on amending the deal under consideration. 

Instead of giving the former amusement park site to JCOS, they wanted Martin Marietta to keep that plot (along with water rights) and sell it themselves and reimburse JCOS $14.5 million for the purchase of the Goltra property.

Robbins said Martin Marietta agreed it was a good solution and are amending their proposal accordingly.

Among important provisions from the original deal that remain in the amended version, at the end of Martin Marietta’s mining operations, the mining land will revert to Jefferson County ownership, to be used as a reservoir.

Additionally, JCOS will receive $4.5 million in cash payments over 30 years (at a rate of $150,000 per year).

As for the effects of increased mining operations In a previous interview, Martin Marietta West Division President Abbott Lawrence said the company would

utilize the same practices that it already utilizes at the existing mine and that the operations impacts on the community would not change.

The Guy Gulch deal, if completed, would accomplish more than a third of JCOS’s goal of acquiring 3000 acres of land in the next five years. During the Aug. 5 JCOS Advisory Committee meeting, Deputy Director, Hillary Merritt said the Goltra family is hoping to close the deal by the end of the 2021 calendar year. 

Merritt said if accomplished, the Martin Marietta deal should be finalized around August of 2022. She said Martin Marietta has already agreed to all terms in the amended deal, but if it should happen to fall through, JCOS would be able to fund the Guy Gulch deal with money currently budgeted for land acquisition over the next few years.

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