From the Greater Park Hill Community Newsletter
Two Critical Words
As a lifelong Park Hill resident, a Greater Park Hill Community board member and an active member of Save Open Space Denver, I’m writing in response to Kenneth Ho’s guest opinion piece in the May edition regarding land speculator and real estate developer Westside Investment Partners’ development plans for the Park Hill Golf Course land. Mr. Ho is one of Westside’s owners and Westside’s point person trying to convince our community that Westside should be able to build a mini-city on the invaluable 155-acre open space.
Glaringly, Mr. Ho failed to use the two critical words – “conservation easement” – anywhere in his opinion piece. Mr. Ho, Westside, and the Hancock administration want to pretend that there are no legal impediments to their development plans.
Here are the undisputable facts: In 1997, Denver taxpayers paid $2 million for the perpetual open space conservation easement that forever protects the Park Hill Golf Course land from being developed. The “conservation purposes” of the conservation easement are to conserve the land “as open space” and “to maintain [the land’s] scenic and open condition and to preserve [the land] for recreational use.”
When Westside purchased the land in July 2019, it purchased the land subject to the conservation easement. The conservation easement is governed by the Colorado conservation easement statute that prevents its termination unless Westside and the City could secure a court order that – based on changed conditions on or surrounding the Park Hill Golf Course land since recording of the current easement version in July 2019 – it has become impossible to accomplish the “conservation purposes” of the easement. Based on current facts, there is absolutely no way they could prove such impossibility.
It’s time for Mr. Ho, Westside and the Hancock administration to stop blowing smoke at our community!
Sandy Robnett, Park Hill
Forever Should Mean Forever
An Open Letter to the Park Hill Community:
I am a 10-plus year resident of this amazing neighborhood, a Greater Park Hill Community board member, and an Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation board member. This is my response to the opinion piece by Westside Investment developer and principal Kenneth Ho in last month’s issue titled “City Should Pursue Planning Process.”
What I find to be increasingly alarming in Mr. Ho’s piece and prior narratives by lobbyists is the absence of acknowledgement for the perpetual open space conservation easement that Denver purchased 23 years ago. This easement preserves the land from any development. It is critical we emphasize the word “perpetual” from the easement contract because it means “continuing forever.”
Under Mayor Wellington Webb’s administration, the prior owner of the golf course land, Clayton Early Learning, sold the development rights when it agreed to the conservation easement in exchange for $2 million of Denver taxpayer dollars. When Mr. Ho’s company, Westside Investment, purchased the land last July, it did so subject to the perpetual conservation easement, preserving it forever as open space. I am disappointed that the city and Mr. Ho are forging a planning process under these clear restrictions.
Instead, Mr. Ho wants to berate the Save Open Space Denver group and community supporters for opposing the current administration’s announcement to begin a “small area planning process” for the land. It is their responsibility to explain why additional money, time, and energy should be wasted on a planning process for land that we, the taxpayers, have already preserved as open space. The land cannot be developed and it is not our responsibility to bail out the developers.
I find it strange that Mr. Ho argues that “parks have the potential to cause gentrification.” As a resident, it seems development causes gentrification. We have seen this gentrification in Park Hill and adjacent neighborhoods. I encourage you to check out the developer’s website westsideinv.com and consider a built environment like 9th and Colorado Boulevard over a vibrant open space that will be utilized for recreation, wildlife, and combat pollution now and for the benefit of future generations.
Stay healthy, neighbors!
Blair Taylor, Park Hill