23 Aug 2014
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Alburtis Park to Re-open in 2013

Break-up between the owner and operator left the park's future in doubt, but fire company officials say there will be a next season.

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Despite hitting a sour note last week, Alburtis Fire Company officials have announced that the show will go on after all at Alburtis Park.

It will just take a while to do so.

What has stayed the same?: The park is closed for the rest of this season despite scheduled dates through Oct. 28.

What has changed or been clarified?: This is not the end of Alburtis Park, which has operated since 1925. The fire company has announced the park will re-open in 2013.

What remains confusing?: Who will operate the park? Will it have a similar format with live country music and primarily food and bingo?

Park operations were thrown into chaos on Sept. 12 when the fire company, the social arm of the Alburtis Fire Department, filed a landlord-tenant complaint with Magisterial District Judge Michael Faulkner of Upper Macungie Township against operator Jack Stull. The two sides met that evening, with Stull saying he was immediately closing the park. For its part, the fire company padlocked the park buildings, locking Stull and everyone else out.

Stull said the fire company, which owns the park, was meddling and trying to tell him how to run his operation. But, as a tenant paying $500 per month, he was behind in his rent, according to the civil complaint.

The action notes that the lease has expired, evicts Stull and seeks damages of $566 for unjust detention of real property, essentially depriving the landlord of use of the property until the tenant removes his belongings.

Stull admitted in an interview with Patch that he had been behind in the rent at times. However, he said he only owed for the current amount, which was overdue since Sept. 1.

Stull met with fire company officials the night the civil complaint was filed. He did not say whether that complaint was discussed during the meeting. But the session ended with him leaving and saying that he would no longer run the park. The park's website reads in red letters that the facility is closed for the season effective Sept. 13.

Stull in his Patch interview said he chose to stop operations and knew of no litigation. He characterized the break-up as a matter of differing opinions and his unwillingness to accept meddling.

Whether the fire company tired of Stull being in arears, tired of the relationship or something else isn't clear. Fire company officials said they would not comment because the matter is in litigation. However, President David George confirmed in the same Sept. 15 email that Alburtis Park will re-open in 2013.

Stull took over as operator of the struggling park four years ago. He implemented a $3 admission charge at the beginning of this season for the first time in the park's history. He said the charge was necessary to cover costs including live entertainment because guests were not spending enough on food and other activities.

Although attendance shot down, Stull proclaimed that the admission charge was paying the bills and that there would be a 2013 season. A sign in the park re-enforced the statement.

Then came the Sept. 12 civil complaint and meeting. Stull soon told media outlets that he was closing the park, leaving its future in doubt. Fire company officials have quickly moved to assure patrons that the facility will re-open next year. However, details of whether an operator will be found or the organization will try to run the park itself either haven't been announced or worked out. Nor have details as to whether activities will remain the same, but George said information will be released when possible.

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