Public planning process for Park Hill golf course land begins as some cringe at the possibilities

The future of the field is wrapped up in a debate between open space and development.

David Sachs The Denverite 2/11/2021

The group tasked with shaping the future of a rare undeveloped tract of land in northeast Denver began its work Wednesday, two days after a local group reiterated its opposition to any building on the site, once home to the Park Hill Golf Club.

Most people involved in the debate so far suggest two futures for the deserted 155-acre golf course: a new district of homes, businesses, community centers and parks accessible to transit via the nearby 40th and Colorado RTD station, or some sort of open space in a city looking to increase greenery. Technically, everything is on the table, including another golf course, according to the city’s planning department.

“We know there are already many strong opinions in the community about this plan now that the golf course is closed, and I think it’s really important to iterate that everything is on the table and available to be discussed,” said Laura Aldrete, director of Denver Community Planning and Development.

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Public planning process for Park Hill golf course land begins as some cringe at the possibilities – Denverite, the Denver site!

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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SOS Denver Press Conference Feb 8 2021

DENVER, CO (February 8, 2021) Save Open Space Denver (“SOS Denver”), the grassroots community organization that has been working for over four years on issues related to the future of the Park Hill Golf Course land, will hold a virtual press conference on Monday morning February 8th, from 10:30​ to 11:00 a.m. The Zoom meeting will expose some of the very important concerns facing the future of the Park Hill Golf Course land and its conservation easement. The meeting will also address issues with the way in which the City is proceeding regarding the land by launching this “visioning” and planning effort. SOS Denver has presented these concerns in writing to Mayor Hancock and his administration today, with copies to Denver City Council members. A copy of this letter will be released to press via email Monday morning. The main concerns include: • Why is the City proceeding with a “visioning” and planning process for development on land that is legally protected from development by a conservation easement? • If the City has plans to lift the easement to allow development, how do they plan to do this in compliance with the Colorado conservation easement statute? • If this planning process goes forward, what, if anything, can be done to neutralize the inherent bias of a developer-driven process, orchestrated to produce a pro-development outcome for the real estate developer landowner? Tony Pigford and Woody Garnsey from SOS Denver will be on hand to present the latest on this fight to protect this critical open space and will be available to take questions.

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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