Denver launches planning process for 155-acre Park Hill land protected from development

Open space battle intensifies with opponents urging city to buy back land

 

Denver leaders this week are launching a planning process for the 155-acre former Park Hill Golf Club site that has been protected as golf-related open space under a legal restriction that blocks development.

City officials on Monday told The Denver Post their “visioning” process is necessary to explore how this conservation easement could be changed.

But a coalition of residents ramped up their opposition, saying city officials are wasting time and money planning for development that cannot be done.

At a forum Monday, opponents urged city leaders to use $5 million in open space tax funds to buy back the land developer Westside Investment Partners purchased for $24 million in 2019. They said this is a last relatively inexpensive chance to preserve open space near the city center, casting it as a battle for justice and the soul of the city.

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Park Hill Golf Course Visioning Process Tees Off This Week

WESTWORD

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh| February 8, 2021 | 8:00am

A steering committee will meet for the first time this week to tee off a “visioning process” for the 155-acre property that encompasses the now-closed Park Hill Golf Course.

“Committee members will meet monthly to help review and consider public feedback, engage others in the visioning process, and ultimately recommend actions for consideration by Denver City Council,” according to the Denver Community Planning and Development website. The 27-person steering committee includes, among others, nearby residents, representatives from local neighborhood organizations, and officials with Westside Investment Partners, the development company that bought the land from a trust for $24 million in 2019. The committee’s first meeting is set for 5 p.m. February 9.

Not to be one-upped by the city, however, at 10:30 a.m. today, February 8, proponents of keeping the golf course property as open space will hold a press conference to “expose some of the very important concerns facing the future of the Park Hill Golf Course land and its conservation easement.”

“It’s our point of view that the entire visioning process is inappropriate and premature. It’s inappropriate because the city has acknowledged it’s developer-led, which is problematic, and it’s not based on city needs overall,” says Penfield Tate, a former state lawmaker and Denver mayoral candidate who has been one of those fighting to keep the land as open space.

That easement dates back decades. Initially, the City of Denver planned to purchase the land, which had been used as a golf course since 1932, from the George W. Clayton Trust, which is managed by Clayton Early Learning, a nonprofit that caters to low-income children and runs a preschool and educational research institute, using $2 million generated by a 1989 bond measure. (At one point, the city had been the trustee of that trust, but was removed in the 1980s.)

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