By Bruce Finley
The Denver Post
President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans for locally- led protection of 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030, a core of his agenda to address climate warming that builds on nature saving efforts launched in Congress by lawmakers from Colorado and other Western states.
Natural land and water could draw down the heat trapping air pollution that causes climate change, scientists say, and nature increasingly is understood as a life support system for human survival both inside cities and in rural areas. Preserving at least 30% of land and water by 2030, they say, is necessary to pull back from a catastrophic tipping point.
Gov. Jared Polis issued a statement casting Colorado as a leader in cooperative “science- based approaches” toward the fulfillment of Biden’s climate objectives.
Colorado conservation groups are positioning the state to play a key role by developing a strategy to save 14 million acres that remain largely undeveloped within the 67-millionacre area of the state — by incentivizing voluntary protective easements on private land, creating new parks in cities and rural areas, and dialing back development on public lands.
Westword Maria Flora| March 4, 2018 | 7:40am
Denver is missing the open-space opportunity of the century. Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC), located east of Colorado Boulevard between 35th and 40th avenues, now provides 155 acres of open space (zoned OS-B, Open Space – Recreation) for our city. It is owned by Clayton Trust, a nonprofit that provides educational programs for children from birth to five years. In 1997, Denver paid $2 million to Clayton for a perpetual conservation easement on PHGC, requiring that the land be used for open space, specifically an 18-hole golf course, and prohibiting any development of the property. If an October 13, 2000, Agency Agreement between Denver and Clayton is terminated for any reason, Clayton is obligated to grant all rights to PHGC to the city. It seems that Denver holds all the cards it needs to acquire the PHGC land and designate it as a city park or allow its current use as an 18-hole golf course.
The Trust for Public Land gives Denver an overall park score of only 64 out of 100. For park land as a percent of city area, Denver is at only 8 percent, out of a high of 20 percent, according to TPL. PHGC is the largest remaining tract available to fill this park shortage in Denver.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock is co-chair of Mayors for Parks. In its website video, Hancock says that parks “are vital to the overall health and sustainability of our city, the overall economic development of our city, and it’s important for me to elevate that. …”
As part of a city-organized “visioning process,” a community steering committee will meet today, March 9, to discuss what to do with 155 acres of land comprising the defunct Park Hill golf course, a prized swath of undeveloped land now owned by Westside Investment Partners.
“My job is to facilitate the steering committee process and meetings so that people have answers to questions or, when debating what things say, I can help broker resolutions. But there might be cases where we’re not going to reach consensus on things. For me, it feels too early on to know that,” says Nita Mosby Tyler, who runs the Equity Project, a Denver-based consulting firm, and has been hired by the city for this project.
The group Save Open Space Denver wants all 155 acres to remain open space — albeit a massive park rather than a golf course. Westside, which purchased the property from a trust for $24 million in 2019, wants to develop the land to include commercial and residential areas, and has said it would leave at least 60 acres of open space; affordable-housing advocates have expressed support for that development plan.
But there’s a confounding factor to any future development: For decades, the land has been under a conservation easement. According to the Denver City Attorney’s Office, that easement requires the primary use of the land to be a golf course. Save Open Space Denver, which counts former mayor Wellington Webb and former mayoral candidate and state legislator Penfield Tate as members, maintains that the conservation easement protects the land as open space generally, and doesn’t require that an 18-hole golf course remain there.
Both groups agree that any major development project would require the easement to be lifted, which would involve both a Denver City Council vote and a judge’s order. But SOS Denver believes that even with the easement left in place, the land could become a large public park.
The future of the field is wrapped up in a debate between open space and development.
David Sachs The Denverite 2/11/2021
The group tasked with shaping the future of a rare undeveloped tract of land in northeast Denver began its work Wednesday, two days after a local group reiterated its opposition to any building on the site, once home to the Park Hill Golf Club.
Most people involved in the debate so far suggest two futures for the deserted 155-acre golf course: a new district of homes, businesses, community centers and parks accessible to transit via the nearby 40th and Colorado RTD station, or some sort of open space in a city looking to increase greenery. Technically, everything is on the table, including another golf course, according to the city’s planning department.
“We know there are already many strong opinions in the community about this plan now that the golf course is closed, and I think it’s really important to iterate that everything is on the table and available to be discussed,” said Laura Aldrete, director of Denver Community Planning and Development.