• truck in building

    Destroyed truck rests in building

Did Heemeyer do Granby a favor?

Each of the targets of the rampage went through its own unique processes in rebuilding. Some received fair insurance payouts while others didn’t. For some, the insurance dealings were acceptable, for others they were a nightmare. After rebuilding Granby ended up with new and remodeled buildings it hadn’t had before the rampage. But that came with a cost both financial and emotional.

There are those who think that Heemeyer did Granby a favor through the rampage. People jokingly, and some seriously, assert that he carried out a sort of forced urban renewal for a run-down town that needed a facelift. It’s true that Heemeyer did force a type of urban renewal for the town. It’s true the town needed a “face lift.” Heemeyer’s defenders say that his rampage helped Granby get an improved town “for free” because insurance payouts and charity paid for the recovery. It’s as if, they say, the town is really a whole lot better off, thanks to Heemeyer.

It’s true that parts of Granby look much better after the rampage.  However, a tally of the real costs and longterm impacts of the rampage, offset by insurance payouts and charitable gifts, shows that Heemeyer succeeded in costing the businesses and people of Granby a lot of money, even with the facelift. Yes, insurance and charitable gifts paid for portions of the replacement of damaged property. But in almost all the cases, victims used the rebuilding as an opportunity to do more than merely replace what they had lost. They took on the added expense of enhancing and expanding what was replaced. These enhancements cost businesses, individuals, taxpayers and the public sector extra money above and beyond any insurance payouts or donations. The added costs, in some cases, are likely to continue until 2025.

Estimating the value of Heemeyer’s damage is an inexact science. For instance, numbers I published in the Sky-Hi News estimated the value of the damage at $7 million. That was higher than an estimate from a year earlier of $6 million. Six years after the rampage, taking into consideration new information, I’ve come up with a figure of $8.7 million for the total value of damages caused by Heemeyer. The main reason for this increase comes from higher estimates of damage to town streets, sidewalks and infrastructure not considered earlier and higher loss amounts for Gambles, the Grand County Library District and Grand County.

I’ve tried to break down the costs into the four categories. First there’s the actual value of the damage caused by the Killdozer. Second, I try to assess the value of that damage that was not reimbursed by insurance or charity. Third, I’ve put a value on all the improvements and upgrades from the rampage that exceeded what was in place before June 4, 2004. I’ll call that “enhancement value.” Finally, I came up with numbers that show the actual costs of the new buildings and improved facilities. This cost figure includes interest on money borrowed to make those improvements. As anyone who’s had a mortgage on a house knows, the cost of paying off the mortgage usually far exceeds the value of the house itself.

Looking at these numbers shows that insurance and charity partially paid to rebuild but that the funds fell short in covering even the costs of the rampage itself. Even more interesting, the enhancements that came about because of the rampage, while better than what the community had before, came with a very real price tag for which the community continues to pay.

9 Comments

  • comment-avatar
    Stacey wright January 31, 2018 (6:15 pm)

    Mr. Brower the only favor that memory bashing..woman hating..self loathing.. king of the snowmobile riders did that day, was to eat a bullet. I liked your book. I was born in Kremmling 1969. Left in 1980. Still visit..own land there which I pay taxes on and look forward to building in a town free of the biggest con man my childhood home has ever seen.
    Stacey Wright

  • comment-avatar
    Patrick Brower September 20, 2018 (11:42 am)

    Sadly, there are people out there who still think Marv was a hero. Check me new post on a bogus YouTube site. Thanks.

  • comment-avatar
    Anonymous April 9, 2019 (5:39 am)

    Heemayer was the biggest hero ever!

  • comment-avatar
    James bailey April 16, 2019 (12:20 pm)

    Something I don’t understand why couldnt he get the sewage fixed properly and more importantly why was the road to his property denied, it seems that the road he was prepared to build which the city denied him is the cause of this 8 billion dollar tragedy that will be a stain on your town

  • comment-avatar
    Patrick Brower April 18, 2019 (3:33 pm)

    Hello James. I think you are mistaken. He had no “sewage” that needed to get fixed. He inquired about hooking his property to the Granby Sanitation District sewage main. The district annexed him but when he learned that it would cost a significant sum (probably $70,000) to hook on, Heemeyer became angry. The district did not prevent him from hooking on. He just decided not to do it. As for the alleged denied road, that is a falsehood. The town never denied nor blocked a road to Heemeyer’s property. Heemeyer had access to his shop right up until the day he sold it. This is a “false fact” promulgated by people who don’t know the facts about the background behind this event. No easement, access, road or driveway was ever blocked to Heemeyer’s property.

  • comment-avatar
    Michael Courchesne July 3, 2019 (12:20 pm)

    What happened to this Killdozer? Is it on display for the public to see?

    • comment-avatar
      Ryan Wilson November 26, 2019 (10:48 am)

      No, it was dismantled.

  • comment-avatar
    Matt May 14, 2020 (4:16 pm)

    Watch the 2020 documentary, “Tread”. Then watch it again… At the end of the documentary, the overfed, over privileged Thompson brother said “they should have made a shrine out of the dozer, it made our town a lot of money”. Nothing could be more false, the town paid dearly for the way they treated Heemeyer and that was just his intention. He was well liked throughout the town, what wasn’t well liked was him being successful in Granby. the town board and founding fathers despised him for this, specifically Docheffs loud mouth ass. When Heemeyer mentions “the good old boys club”, he is spot on. People of a community that bully anyone who is not a part of their elite circle. This happens in most small towns, where the senior residents make day to day life hard for anyone trying to get ahead. Something snapped in Heemeyer, I don’t condone his actions as a whole but do agree with most of his tape recordings. To me, he is a kind of hero who humbled specific people that needed a wake up call. As I said, watch the documentary TWICE! You will catch many things, including the tells on the faces of the Thompson family as they way over defend Dorcheff. Stating he is a “good man”, when he is a miserable, arrogant and intolerable crook.

  • comment-avatar
    James Dyess July 30, 2020 (2:01 pm)

    Mr Brower, I just watched the Netflix documentary covering this event, as well as its lead up. I just wanted to thank you for providing needed perspective…and I felt like you came across as quite fair-minded.

    It is clear to me that there a lot of things happened to Marv that he didn’t feel were fair…rather, they were driven by some underhanded animosity that all of these different and unrelated parties had towards him. It’s also clear to me that, while that may have been the driving force in a very small number of incidents, he was actually just encountering life the same way as the rest of us.

    Governments are, generally speaking, a thorn in the side of Joe Citizen…and most of us come away feeling less than stellar about our interactions with gov’t entities.

    For some reason, Marv internalized anything that didn’t go his way as more than just life in the United States. And, in my opinion, that’s all it was…at least, the vast majority of the time.

    It seems like he could’ve continued to build on his success and leverage his business acumen to successfully tackle much bigger and better endeavors. It’s a shame…he could have achieved so much more if he put his energy towards something with a positive outcome.

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