The summer of 2020 is predicted to be the hottest ever recorded. Meanwhile, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge nationwide, city officials are closing public beaches and pools and limiting the capacity of cooling centers. This is putting even more pressure on public parks, which were already in high demand as one of the few places where people can escape the confines of home.
Parks—especially those that are densely wooded and deep green—can counter urban temperatures exacerbated by heat-trapping buildings, pavement, and concrete. Given the increased importance of parks during this public health emergency, The Trust for Public Land analyzed park data from across the country to determine who does and doesn’t have access to this vital public resource—and uncovered some troubling findings.
The Denver City Council on Monday killed a proposal that would have let city voters decide the fate of a former golf course in Northeast Park Hill.
Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca sponsored the failed initiative, which arose from a fight for the future of the defunct Park Hill Golf Club. The valuable land, owned by developer Westside Investment Partners, equates to 155 acres of grass and trees along Colorado Boulevard between 35th and 40th avenues. The bill is being sent back to committee
Tash Mitchell speaks at a Denver City Council Listening Session 08-22-20.
This bill if approved will provide an amendment to the Charter of the City and County of Denver to prohibit the following without the approval of voters in a regularly scheduled municipal or special election: any commercial or residential development on land protected by a City-owned conservation easement except where consistent with the conservation easement purposes and any partial or complete cancellation of a City-owned conservation easement unless for the purpose of creating a new park.
Council Bill No 20-0851-1
On August 10 2020 some members of SOS Denver appeared at City Council during their open comment period. Shortly after Maria Flora made her comment she received an email from CM Kevin Flynn regarding her comments. Email From Kevin Flynn
See below for the response from Maria Flora on behalf of Save Open Space Denver
VIA EMAIL ONLY
August 11, 2020
Thank you for your email. I am very pleased to have an opportunity to address the issues regarding interpretation of the perpetual open space conservation easement that protects the Park Hill Golf Course land (“the PHGC land conservation easement”) from development.
First of all, I think you would agree that the PHGC land conservation easement is not the best drafted legal document that we’ve ever seen. In fact, there are some internal inconsistencies that I will discuss below.
The starting point for analyzing the PHGC land conservation easement is the Colorado Conservation Easement Statute, C.R.S. §38-30.5-101 et seq. The conservation easement applicable to the PHGC land states explicitly that it was created pursuant to this Colorado statute. Although Clayton and its attorney Bruce James, during Clayton’s ownership of the land, and now Westside, have always wanted to try to diminish the legal effect of the conservation easement by calling it a “use agreement,” it is in fact a conservation easement created under and governed by this Colorado statute.
In relevant part, the statute defines a conservation easement as follows:
a right in the owner of the easement to prohibit or require a limitation upon…a land
area…appropriate to the retaining or maintaining of such land…predominantly in a natural, scenic or open condition, or for wildlife habitat…or recreational…or other use or condition consistent with the protection of open land, environmental quality or life-sustaining ecological diversity…. C.R.S. §38-30.5-101.
An interpretation of the PHGC land conservation easement must begin with an analysis of the conservation purposes that are consistent with this statutory definition of a conservation easement. These overarching conservation purposes are “for the conservation of the [land] as open space” (paragraph 1) and “to maintain [the land’s] scenic and open condition and to preserve [the land] for recreational use” (paragraph 2). These conservation purposes are completely consistent with the statutory definition of a conservation easement and they are the legal essence of the PHGC land conservation easement.