Conneaut Lake Park bankruptcy judge says he is incompetent

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Pittsburgh-based US judge Jeffery Deller on Tuesday agreed with the argument put forward by Keldon Holdings LLC, owner of Conneaut Lake Park.

Although he approved the March purchase of Conneaut Lake Park by Keldon and his owner Todd Joseph, Deller said he did not have ongoing jurisdiction over complaints about the park’s operations. This point was argued by Joseph’s lawyer in recent court cases.

Following: New owner of Conneaut Lake Park says status quo has not worked; late blight elimination in progress

Deller, however, listened at length during an internet hearing Tuesday morning to concerns about the operations of the park owned by Joseph. Then he offered some advice.

“Communicate,” the judge repeated.

This is the advice he offered to residents who own homes in Lake Conneaut Park and expressed concerns about fences limiting access to their property and complained about the presence of dumpsters parked outside. Their houses.

He gave the same advice to those who feared park owners were not meeting the terms of a public use requirement giving access to the property. This access was a condition of the sale by the public trust that owns the 129-year-old amusement park.

Either way, Deller said, those concerns should be directed to park owners or the state attorney general’s office, which has the authority to bring these matters to the Crawford County Common Plea Court.

Associated coverage: Rides for sale, but Conneaut Lake Park owner is still silent on park plans

“The attorney general’s office looks after the public interest,” Deller said.

But the judge stressed that good lines of communication could limit the need for official action.

“To me, when I read all of these documents (courts), it seems like there is a communication problem.… It just seems like people are talking to each other, not talking to each other,” Deller said.

He specifically mentioned a letter that Todd Joseph sent to court in October. In this letter, Joseph spoke of those who challenged his right to manage his park as he sees fit.

“People don’t like change, what worked in 1950 for those 80-year-olds just doesn’t work now,” Joseph wrote in his letter to Zeller.

Joseph’s letter continued: “What they are doing is selfish, young children and families do not want to come to this park as is, because of its seniority and age. Yet these 80 year olds want it. way, for their own selfish reasons. ”

Associated coverage: Louisiana bankruptcy judge wants answers from owner of Conneaut Lake Park; possible financial penalties

“Everyone must work together”

Deller apparently wasn’t a fan of the letter.

“I was a little offended by this,” said Deller, who then encouraged Joseph to connect with people who have been residents and fans of the park for decades.

“If you work with people, in general, you get better results,” Deller said.

Deller also referred to earlier comments from Joseph, who explained that Pittsburgh Steelers fans are welcome, but they are not invited to call parts on behalf of head coach Mike Tomlin.

The judge partially agreed with this finding, speaking on several occasions about the money invested by Keldon Holdings and noting that the owner had the right to make changes.

“We love the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we don’t have a say on game calls,” Deller said. “But I’ll tell you that the Rooney family (team owners) worked with the City of Pittsburgh in terms of development on the North Shore. They worked collaboratively and it was successful. I have no reason to believe that cannot be done at Conneaut Lake Everyone has to work together.

Peter Meltzer, a Philadelphia attorney who represents Keldon, argued Tuesday, as he did in court records, that his client has invested more than $ 1 million to improve the park, which he says is in much better condition now than before the purchase.

In addition, he said on Tuesday, “foreigners are not allowed to tell people what to do with their property.”

Gloria Novak, a Pittsburgh resident who also owns a home in the park, spoke at Tuesday’s hearing about the inability of park residents to reach Keldon due to concerns about access or utilities.

“We would like to have a contact number,” she said.

Despite his thoughts on the park after dealing with the bankruptcy case, Deller concluded his official involvement was over.

“I am a limited subject court,” he said. “Given my limited competence, there is little I can do about problems with your dispute.”

He suggested, however, that some of these issues could be resolved through dialogue between the park owner and the community.

“Communication needs to be brought back to these people instead of just standing there,” he said. “If you work together, Conneaut Lake will be a wonderful place. As long as everyone is fighting, it will be even more difficult.”

Contact Jim Martin at 814-870-1668 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNMartin.

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