OPINION: Park Hill Golf Course Open Space in Jeopardy

Hold Mayor and Council Candidates Accountable On May 7

By Woody Garnsey and Sandy Robnett

Special to the GPHN

The open space future of the 155-acre Park Hill Golf Course land is in jeopardy and needs an outpouring of public support to save it. The land is the last sizeable parcel of core Denver open space that could someday become a public park.

The land, currently a golf course at 35th and Colorado Boulevard and stretching east and north, is zoned Open Space-Recreation (OS-B). It has been open space forever, and, since 1997 has been explicitly protected by the perpetual open space conservation easement that Denver taxpayers paid $2 million for.

Pursuant to an October 2000 agency agreement between the George W. Clayton Trust (Clayton) and the City, Clayton now holds title to the land “as agent of the City, to hold for the benefit of the citizens of the City and the general public.” Clayton currently leases the land for golf operations to Arcis, a Texas-based golf operator and commercial development company. The lease includes a right of first refusal for Arcis to purchase the land. Arcis’ current lease term expires at the end of 2023, and it has one more 5-year option to renew through 2028.

So, what could possibly go wrong for protection of this invaluable open space? The short answer is: Clayton wants to sell the land to support its early childhood learning programs. Arcis wants to buy the land. And, the current City administration and many City Council members have demonstrated both a desire to have the land developed for mixed residential and commercial use and also a willingness to tear up the perpetual open space conservation easement.

With this dynamic in play, the open space could become part of what Denver Post reporter Bruce Finley recently described as Denver’s “Concrete Metropolis.”

 

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