Criticism Clouds the Park Hill Golf Course Visioning Process

Westword

| March 9, 2021 | 6:02am

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.

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