SAVE OPEN SPACE DENVER FILES LAWSUIT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Colette Carey

EJ Reilly & Associates

(720) 815-6800

ccarey@ejreillyandassoc.com

SAVE OPEN SPACE DENVER FILES LAWSUIT OVER THE PARK HILL GOLF COURSE LAND CONSERVATION EASEMENT

A coalition of concerned citizens from every City Council District galvanize in the

fight to save Denver’s precious and ever-shrinking green space

DENVER (June 23, 2021) In a new and critical development regarding the Park Hill Golf Course land, Save Open Space Denver (SOS), along with plaintiffs from each City Council District – today filed a Complaint in Denver District Court seeking a court order regarding the City-owned 2019 conservation easement that preserves the Park Hill Golf Course land for open space and recreational conservation purposes – preventing development on that land. The Complaint claims are based on the Colorado conservation easement statute that prevents termination, release, extinguishment, or abandonment of a conservation easement without a court order that (based on changes on or surrounding protected land) it has become impossible to continue fulfilling an easement’s conservation purposes.  

SOS and the other citizen plaintiffs seek a court order stating that the City is violating the Colorado conservation easement statute by expending significant taxpayer-funded, government resources to engage in an expensive planning and development process without first securing a statutorily mandated court order allowing termination, release, extinguishment or abandonment the 2019 conservation easement. The plaintiffs also seek a court order requiring the City to cease and desist from further actions and expenditures inconsistent with the open space and recreational conservation purposes of the 2019 conservation easement until the City might secure such a court order regarding that easement.

“What this boils down to is the simple fight over green space versus concrete, and we have citizens from all walks of life who put their names on this lawsuit, ” said Penfield Tate, one of the plaintiffs named in the complaint, “The City is wastefully spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a major planning and development process for land that cannot be developed without a court order under Colorado law. Since the City refuses to address the Colorado conservation easement statute mandate, we’re seeking a court order that it must do so, now.”

The complaint also alleges that the City’s planning and development process “is effectively a real estate development joint venture project between the City and Westside Investment Partners.” To support this, the plaintiffs cite an internal December 2019 email from the Executive Director of the Planning and Development Department, Laura Aldrete, in which she refers to the developer (Westside) as the City’s “client.”  Another allegation cites an admission by Ms. Aldrete at a January 2021 City Council Budget and Policy Committee meeting that her department’s planning and development process for the Park Hill Golf Course land is “market driven by a developer.”  

A full copy of the filed complaint can be found at the following link:

https://bit.ly/3xIESTe

The plaintiffs are as follows, listed by Denver City Council District:

District OneRafael Espinoza
District TwoXochitl Gaytan
District ThreeJason Paul McGlaughlin
District FourAnthony W. Pigford
District FiveLaurie B. Bogue
District SixJoan Fitz-Gerald
District SevenAnne McGihon
District EightPhebe Lassiter, Nancy Young, Penfield Tate
District NineJeff “Brother Jeff” Fard, Yadira Sanchez, Wellington Webb
District TenRegina Jackson
District ElevenGabriel Lindsay

About SOS Denver

Save Open Space Denver (“SOS Denver”) is a grassroots community group focused on the future of the Park Hill Golf Course land. We are dedicated both to the preservation of the beautiful 155-acre open space and to the eventual acquisition of the land by the City to create a fabulous park for all.

www.sosdenver.net

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YES FOR PARKS AND OPEN SPACE RECEIVES CONFIRMATION ON BALLOT INITIATIVE

Denver citizens overwhelmingly support additional protections for parks and open space

DENVER, CO (June 22, 2021) The YES for Parks and Open Space ballot committee received notice of sufficiency today from the Clerk and Recorders office, confirming that their initiative has secured a spot on the November 2nd ballot.

SEE HERE

“This is great news for us and great news for Denver,” said Penfield Tate, leader of the YES for Parks and Open Space initiative. “Ensuring protection for park land and open space in this city is something that every citizen should have a voice in – and our “Green” initiative gives them that voice. There is a very clear choice for Denver voters, green space versus concrete and asphalt. Now, onto a victory in November!” 

The YES initiative language is simple:

“Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt a measure prohibiting the following without the approval of voters in a regularly scheduled municipal or special election:

  • any commercial or residential development on land designated as a city park and land protected by a City-owned conservation easement except where consistent with park purposes, conservation easement purposes, or for cultural facilities, and
  • any partial or complete cancellation of a City-owned conservation easement unless for the purpose of creating a new park?”

YES for Parks and Open Space submitted well over 14,000 petition signatures, well beyond the 8,265 needed to make the November ballot.

About YES for Parks and Open Space

YES for Parks and Open Space is an initiative launched by a group of concerned citizens who want to ensure that the voters in the City and County of Denver have a voice in how the land in our designated parks and open spaces – protected by city-owned conservation easements – can be used. ###

238 Mature Trees Bulldozed By Developers At Loretto Heights

Did I Read Correctly That The Developer Of Loretto Heights……

Instead of preserving 238 mature trees at Loretto Heights, Westside just chopped them down, and the city was helpless to stop them. In response to a citizen’s letter noting that it will take 30 to 40 years for any replacement trees to provide the equivalent amount of cooling and clean air: ” In the case of Loretto Heights, this is a private development on private property where our office did not have jurisdiction. The Forestry review team provided direction to the developer in regards to trees that should have at least been considered for retention based on a number of criteria, but unfortunately the developer chose a different route. The development proposal called out to preserve some of the trees surrounding the Administration building/quad area and also proposed new street trees within and an adjacent to the development, but you are correct, it will take decades to replace what has been lost. Unfortunately this is a great loss of trees and canopy cover, wildlife corridors, and natural ecological systems, but it has awoken the City to holes in our sustainability and resiliency efforts showing that we need to do better to protect these assets. Hopefully we can address these needs in upcoming policy, rule and ordinance changes, such as the Denver Green Code. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions or concerns and if I cannot address them I will forward them on to someone who can.”

https://denverite.com/2021/06/14/tree-cutting-at-loretto-heights-campus-in-harvey-park-prompts-yells-and-yawns/

From: Myer, Jim P. – DPR CJ1917 Field Superintendent <James.Myer@denvergov.org>
To: dgallag954
Cc: Wilson, Richard A. – DPR Ops Supv <Richard.Wilson@denvergov.org>
Sent: Mon, Jun 14, 2021 8:12 am
Subject: RE: Did I read correctly that the developer of Loretto Heights

Dennis,   Thank you for your inquiry.  Please let me clarify, I supervise the Office of the City Forester’s Plan Review Team that is responsible for the review of development plans that impact the public right-of-way and in certain residential zoned neighborhoods the front setback trees, not a separate inspections/public development office.  In the case of Loretto Heights, this is a private development on private property where our office did not have jurisdiction.  The Forestry review team provided direction to the developer in regards to trees that should have at least been considered for retention based on a number of criteria, but unfortunately the developer chose a different route.  The development proposal called out to preserve some of the trees surrounding the Administration building/quad area and also proposed new street trees within and an adjacent to the development, but you are correct, it will take decades to replace what has been lost.   Unfortunately this is a great loss of trees and canopy cover, wildlife corridors, and natural ecological systems, but it has awoken the City to holes in our sustainability and resiliency efforts showing that we need to do better to protect these assets.  Hopefully we can address these needs in upcoming policy, rule and ordinance changes, such as the Denver Green Code.  Please feel free to contact me with any further questions or concerns and if I cannot address them I will forward them on to someone who can.   Thank you.     

DPR_Color_RGBJim Myer | Forestry Operations Superintendent
james.myer@denvergov.org  p: 720-913-0681 Office of the City Forester|City and County of Denver 

From: Wilson, Richard A. – DPR Ops Supv <Richard.Wilson@denvergov.org>
Sent: Monday, June 14, 2021 6:53 AM
To:dgallag954
Cc: Myer, Jim P. – DPR CJ1917 Field Superintendent <James.Myer@denvergov.org>
Subject: RE: [EXTERNAL] Did I read correctly that the developer of Loretto Heights  

Hello,   I work with the forestry Dept in Parks and Recreation and have no clue what the inspections/ public development office is or isn’t approving. You will need to contact Jim Myer, He is the supervisor of that dept. He is CC’d in on this email for you.  

Thanks,   Rich Wilson |

Forestry Operations Supervisor Board Certified Master Arborist | Tree Risk Qualified | Municipal Specialist RM-0600 Office of the City Forester | Denver Parks and Recreation | City and County of Denver p: (720) 865-0404 Richard.Wilson@Denvergov.org

People want to turn Park Hill Golf Course into a grocery store, athletic fields and other things

You don’t have to read 236 pages about an old golf course to better understand what’s happening next, because we did it for you.

Published in the Denverite

What’s 155 acres, grassy and not a golf course?

Park Hill Golf Course. It closed in 2018 and was sold a year later to Westside Investment Partners, who planned to then work with the city to sort out the land’s excruciatingly complicated conservation easement. Another group called Save Open Space Denver wants Westside to forget developing the land altogether and keep it as-is.

Everyone else has been caught in the middle, including the Park Hill Golf Course Steering Committee, a 27-member board that consists of residents, community leaders, activists and one Westside representative.

The latest insight into community wants and needs comes in the form of a study conducted by RRC Associates, a marketing firm paid by the city. According to their results, people living nearby basically want the big rectangle of space at 35th and Colorado to do multiple jobs. That’s not surprising, according to Sean Maher of RRC.

“Among all household types, races and ethnicities, a combination of green space and development was the preferred option,” he said at a steering committee meeting on June 8.

The study was conducted through two surveys – one was sent via mail to all residents living within 0.8 miles of the site, as well as a few randomly-selected households up to 1 mile away. The other survey was distributed online and was open to the general public. Around 1,300 people and 1,400 people responded to the mail and online surveys, respectively.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE