Former Mayor Wellington Webb suspects a “gentlemen’s agreement” to develop land
August 4, 2019 at 6:00 am
While Denver was hosting urban planners from 18 nations recently for a conference on green space, residents were launching a campaign to preserve 155 acres of open space at the Park Hill Golf Course, which was sold to a developer last month.
These Save Open Space Denver advocates say they’re fighting to ensure breathing room amid a citywide thickening of traffic, jam-packed apartments and rising heat. They’re focusing on the Park Hill land as a last relatively inexpensive chance to move toward a balance between nature and development that city leaders traditionally aspired to in the goal of making Denver “a city within a park.”
Nature in cities has emerged as a global challenge, with more than half of humanity now living in urban areas and a projected 2.5 billion more people expected to live in cities by 2050. Denver officials face rising concerns that the city is failing to ensure sufficient green space.
“We have to fight for every bit of green space we can, or pretty soon our city is going to become unlivable,” said SOS Denver steering committee member Woody Garnsey.
This fight began in 1997, when Denver paid $2 million to place a conservation easement on the Park Hill land — a legal restriction perpetually banning development. That easement remains even after Westside Investment Partners bought the land for $24 million last month. It says the 155 acres must be preserved for golf and “such unrelated recreational uses such as ball fields, tennis courts, etc.”