A U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Western Pennsylvania judge wants answers whether the new owner of Conneaut Lake Park may have violated its purchase agreement.
In March, Keldon Holdings LLC bought Conneaut Lake Park from Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park for $1.2 million in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court-approved proceeding before Judge Jeffery Deller. Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park was the nonprofit corporation that oversaw the amusement park's operations.
The court's approval of the sale required public access to the park’s property to continue. Certain parts of the property have deed restrictions requiring it to be open for use by the general public. Assets sold include the amusement park and its rides, water park, beach area, Hotel Conneaut, Camperland campground, and any active leases on assets such as the hotel and the park’s water system.
However, a joint letter dated Sept. 14 and sent to U.S. Bankruptcy Court by seven residents in Conneaut Lake Park allege violations of the purchase agreement by Keldon.
The letter alleges Todd Joseph, the owner Keldon, "has violated the spirit and intent of the bankruptcy agreement. He is ripping down the park, selling the rides and ignoring the requirements conveyed by the court."
Keldon began to make major changes along the amusement park's midway following its purchase of the property in March.
Dilapidated buildings were removed from Comstock Street southeast to the boardwalk area by the lake. Deteriorated pavement, a large wooden stage that overlooked the lake, and trees along the midway also were removed, creating a large open area for festivals.
The residents — Gloria Novak, Judie Hartung, Larry Hartung, Carol Anderson, Rhonda Jacoby, Gerald Baldwin and Shaunet Baldwin — also allege problems with water utilities and street repair.
"We have no one to call. There is not a phone number on the bills or a local office to contact," the residents' letter states.
The seven residents also allege Joseph has restricted access to their home by the erection of fences across rights of way, impairing safety.
On Sept. 20, Deller set a hearing for Oct. 19, (which is next week), and also directed any responses be filed with the court by Oct. 12.
A second letter, dated Sept. 30, was sent by the seven residents to the court.
In addition, Patricia Hutton, founder of the Conneaut Lake Park Preservation Fund, sent a letter dated Sept. 24 to U.S. Bankruptcy Court, also alleging violations of tearing down buildings and removing rides.
Inaction by Keldon and Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park brought a new court order Friday by Judge Deller.
"October 12, 2021 came and went with no written response. The silence begs the question: Is anyone manning the proverbial ship for the reorganized debtor (Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park) and/or Keldon Holdings, LLC?," Deller wrote.
Deller's order requires Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park and Keldon Holdings to file detailed written responses to the allegations in the letters to the court.
Trustees and Keldon's responses are to:
"1. Address with particularity the merits (both factually and legally) of the allegations;
"2. Address both factually and legally whether this Court has the requisite subject-matter jurisdiction with respect to any case or controversy asserted in the correspondence; and
"3. Be electronically filed with the Court by no later than 3:00 pm eastern prevailing time on Monday, October 18, 2021."
Attorneys for Keldon and Trustees are directed to appear Tuesday via Zoom for a hearing on the matter.
"Failure to comply with this order shall result in the imposition of sanctions, including without limitation monetary sanctions," Deller ordered.
Attorneys for Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park and Keldon Holdings, as well as Joseph, did not respond to the Tribune's request for comment.
Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.