OPINION: Don’t Turn Open Space Into A Sea Of Concrete
Keep The Tranquility Of The Park Hill Golf Course Land
By Shanta Harrison
For the GPHN
I live 10 minutes by foot from the Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC) land. Although I’m not a golfer, I have enjoyed the grounds up close on many occasions while attending events at the clubhouse.
Having lived in Park Hill my entire life, the scenery as I drive down 35th Avenue from my home to Colorado Boulevard is familiar. It’s relaxing. It’s home. The vast landscape of trees and greenery creates a sense of tranquility and nostalgia that no longer exists in other areas of the neighborhood. I cannot think of a more miserable fate for that land than for it to be converted into yet another a sea of apartments and concrete.
More concrete? More traffic? We don’t need it. What we need is fresh air. We need naturally permeable surfaces. We need to be able to see the sky and the mountains and the trees. I know many neighbors who share these sentiments. Most of them won’t write letters like this or show up for meetings but, if you take the time to meet them where they are, they’ll tell you exactly how they feel. Talk of more density is highly undesirable as it often leads to gentrification. They love their neighborhood. They want to be able to live here, peacefully, for the foreseeable future.
Respite In Rough Times
The beauty of the Park Hill Golf Course is that, once you take away the golf, it’s already a gorgeous park. And it should stay that way.
Since we’ve been locked down, our daily respite has been found amidst its rolling green grass, wide paths, and budding trees. We’ve even observed a falcon defending its territory from bullying crows.
We understand that we don’t live across the street from a public park. We’re all too aware of the security guard making daily rounds. But it’s apparent that our use of the golf course as a park has been met with no objection from its owner. Locals freely jog the paths, push strollers, and walk their dogs.
Colorado Boulevard still screams on the western border, the Starbucks-anchored commercial development is plainly visible to the north, and nearby ever-present construction is impossible to miss.
But if you stand near the twittering duck pond and gaze at the snow-capped Rockies, it rejuvenates the spirit in a way that’s critically important during this crisis.
This precious open space will be developed if a judge agrees, and if our city council removes the conservation easement purchased with taxpayer dollars and rezones the land. But if the council holds firm, we can retain this increasingly rare and beautiful public asset.
If you have enjoyed using the golf course as a park, talk to your city council representative. Join the conversation and let your perspective be heard. Only then will the falcon be free to fly over Northeast Park Hill.
— Amy C. Harris, Northeast Park Hill
Formula For Gentrification
Thank you for the wonderful opinion piece “The Case for Parks,” that appeared in the April issue. What our leaders knew was true 100 years ago is even more true today: Parks are not just pretty ornamentation; they are the essential organs of nature tending to the health and well-being of our citizens, even as the city grows ever more crowded.
Today the Park Hill Golf Course land is under imminent threat. It is the last large urban open space with mature trees left in Denver, fortuitously located in the section of Denver with the greatest need for it. It is threatened, despite a conservation easement protecting it that was created to preserve this jewel, in whole.
What would take its place? Greenfield development that will necessitate outlandishly expensive infrastructure spending, paid for entirely by the future property buyers. Since this cost is buried into future property taxes from metro tax districts (controlled by the developer, not the city) rather than being reflected in the selling price of the residences, buyers would be lured into purchasing homes that might at first blush appear to be within budget (if you consider $550,000 starting prices affordable).
In reality, the costs may strain the finances of all but the upper-middle class or wealthier clientele. That is the formula for gentrification.
Meeting the need for truly affordable, mixed use and workforce housing would be better served if they were built on properties that already provide much of the infrastructure otherwise missing from open space — roads, sidewalks, water, sewer, power, etc. This is available just a few blocks away from the 40th and Colorado Boulevard commuter rail station, leaving in place the conservation easement and the Park Hill Golf Course land unmolested — to some day become the public park for which it is ideally suited.
If the city proceeds with a small area plan for Northeast Park Hill, it should center the study on the 40th and Colorado commuter rail station, encompassing land both east and west of Colorado Boulevard.
Harry Doby, Northeast Park Hill