Yes For Parks’ Launches

Open Space Group Kicks Off Petition Drive To Protect Park Hill Golf Course Land As City Announces ‘Visioning’ Plan For Development

By Cara DeGette

Editor, GPHN  Feb 2 2021

The neighborhood group, Save Open Space Denver, has launched a new petition drive for a ballot measure that would protect the Park Hill Golf Course land from potential development.

Their efforts come at the same time the city’s planning department, in conjunction with Westside Investment Partners, has unveiled a formal “visioning” process to determine how the property could be built out.

The dual efforts are the latest in an ongoing tug-of-war over the sprawling 155-acre property at the northwest corner of Park Hill, at 35th and Colorado Boulevard. In 1997, Denver taxpayers paid $2 million for a conservation easement to preserve the land as a golf course or for other recreational purposes. The golf course has been closed since 2018. Last year, Westside Investment Partners paid $24 million for the property with the easement in place – far below market values for recent comparable commercial transactions in the area.

Westside has made it clear that it plans to develop the property — what has been less clear is how it could do so with the easement in place. State law requires a judge to make a final determination before such easements can be lifted.

The ballot question, if voter-approved, would prohibit Denver from terminating the conservation easement without a vote of the people.

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Less pavement, more green will take a little help from everyone

Denver Post January 22, 2021

By Jevon Taylor

Guest Commentary

Being a “city within a park” is not just good for business; it’s critical to Denver’s sustainability. For a city that envisions itself as a “city within a park,” Denver is one of the lowest-ranking American cities in park acres per resident. Intertwined with ongoing growth and development throughout the city is the need to balance the amount of green space and nature within our communities. Each of us needs to rethink our definition of “green space” to include not only parks and open space but trees and greenery built into the spaces in between.

As our city continues to grow, we, as business owners and community stakeholders, need to be the leaders behind a more tangible, accessible solution and look to retrofitting existing spaces. That includes businesses such as mine in Five Points, working with one of Denver’s largest developers, EDENS, and partners such as the National Wildlife Federation and Denver Botanic Gardens to invest proactively in breaking up concrete and incorporating greenery in our rights of way and storefronts. By working with local community members, nearby schools, customers and the city of Denver, our collaboration will transform the space we manage to attract more business, improve people’s health and contribute to the fabric of the community.

This isn’t just a movement to make the city more aesthetically pleasing. There are well-known mental and physical health benefits of time spent around greenery and in nature, such as lower stress and greater physical activity — not to mention environmental benefits such as reduced heat and better air quality. But as a small business owner in downtown Denver, I can’t ignore the added benefit that customers are willing to pay 8% to 12% more where there’s attractive landscaping. Stormwater bills and air conditioning expenses also are affected by what we do with hot, “impervious” concrete outside our storefronts.

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Salazar: All should fight for water, land

Former secretary of the interior sees conservation as a way to close physical, social, political divides

By Judith Kohler

The Denver Post

Throughout his career in Colorado state government, the U.S. Senate and as secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar has focused on the natural environment and the people who rely on it.

His motto was “Fighting for Colorado’s Land, Water and People” during his successful campaigns for state attorney general and the Senate. The motto took on broader significance when former President Barack Obama chose him to lead the Interior Department.

“That’s always been at the heart of who I am, understanding the importance of rivers, water, land, open space and wildlife,” said Salazar, whose family’s roots are deep in Colorado’s San Luis Valley and northern New Mexico.

Salazar, now a partner with the international law firm WilmerHale, was intent on keeping his focus on conservation. Two years ago, he cofounded the Salazar Center for North American Conservation.

It is his hope that with the country more polarized than ever, Americans can find common ground on the most pressing environmental problems — climate change, land use, water quality and quantity — and that the center can bring together diverse ideas and people.

“I think the area of conservation, how we protect our lands, our air and our water, can be a great unifier for a very divided world and a very divided nation,” said Salazar.

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Denver Wants to Fix a Legacy of Environmental Racism

By

Globeville Landing Park, a newly redesigned green space northeast of the Denver city center.Credit…Kevin Mohatt for The New York Times

DENVER — In most American cities, white residents live near parks, trees and baseball fields, while communities of color are left with concrete and the heat that comes with it. Now, in a push that could provide a road map for other cities, officials in Denver are working to rectify that historical inequity.

The effort, one of a handful around the country, has been bolstered by an environmental tax that added tens of millions of dollars to the city budget. It involves purchasing land for new parks, repairing derelict playgrounds, adding recreation centers and planting trees in areas where shade is sparse.

Correcting decades of discriminatory municipal planning is especially important as climate change heats up American cities. Adding green space, researchers have found, can help residents cope with rising heat and brings all sorts of side benefits, like filtering air pollution or boosting residents’ mental health.

FULL ARTICLE HERE

PDF HERE  Denver Wants to Fix a Legacy of Environmental Racism – The New York Times

Letter To The Editor – Calling It As She Sees It

From Greater Park Hill Community Newsletter Aug 2 2020

I take great offense to Kenneth Ho’s letter in the July issue of Greater Park Hill News regarding the development (or not) of the Park Hill Golf Course.

As a principle in Westside Development Partners, the company that wishes to develop the golf course, Mr. Ho stands to make a great deal of money on the project. That’s the business of business, I get that. Yet, in his letter, he’s all about convincing us that Westside’s primary motive is for the betterment of our community. I call bull.

He states that Westside supports a “civil, transparent community process.” Well, the members of Save Open Space Denver are members of our community. They are neighborhood volunteers. They are our community activists. Listen to them. But, no, what Westside wants is the appearance of community input and, then, they will proceed in making as much money as they can off the project. Because why? Because Westside is not a charity: it is a business and the business of business is to make money.

Mr. Ho also refers to green gentrification. He refers to it as “such a big issue that there is an entire field of study around Parks-Related Anti-Displacement Strategies (PRADS).” He infers, I believe, that it’s such a complicated thing we poor, lowly community members cannot possibly understand it. But we do understand it. We understand it all too well.

Further, the very article Ho suggests we read (nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2019/December/greening-without-gentrification/) says “for large park projects in low-income neighborhoods, planning for PRADS needs to begin at the same time as planning a park before investors recognize the potential of new park projects.” Let me repeat that: before investors recognize the potential of new park projects. (What? Did Mr. Ho not bother to read it? Or, did he think we wouldn’t read it?)

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