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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Why Did Westside Buy The Land?

From Greater Park Hill Community July 30 2020

Thoughts On Conserving The Park Hill Golf Course

 by Maria Flora, Woody Garnsey and Penfield Tate

We are writing to address issues raised in Kenneth Ho’s letter to the editor published in the July issue. We are longtime Park Hill residents and members of Save Open Space Denver. One of us is a practicing attorney and two of us are retired attorneys.

First, it is important to underscore the fact that Stapleton resident Mr. Ho is an employee and part owner of Westside Investment Partners, Inc. Westside is the real estate developer and land speculator that in July 2019 acquired the Park Hill Golf Course land as encumbered by the recorded perpetual conservation easement.

Purchased by Denver taxpayers in 1997, the conservation easement is intended forever to preserve the land for the conservation purposes explained below. Westside purchased the land banking on its ability to use its vast financial resources, its political connections, and its hired gun consultants and lobbyists somehow to break the conservation easement and allow the company to make huge profits on the land. Let there be no mistake—Westside did not purchase the land as Mr. Ho implies to address any perceived community inequities. It bought the land to maximize the company’s profits from developing the land.

Second, Mr. Ho incorrectly interprets the conservation easement in an effort to sell the idea that the easement always requires the land to be used as a golf course.

The starting point for interpreting the conservation easement is to determine its overarching conservation purposes. The conservation purposes are to maintain the land’s “scenic and open condition” and to preserve the land “for recreational use.” The conservation easement defines permitted recreational uses as including a golf course and other “unrelated recreational uses such as ball fields, tennis courts, etc.” All of these permitted uses are consistent with the easement’s conservation purposes.

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Postings of Recent Brother Jeff [Fard] Videos

Multimedia journalist, historian and community organizer Brother Jeff [Jeff Fard; brotherjeff.com]] has produced two recent videos in his online “Say It Loud” show featuring powerful interviews about the future of the Park Hill Golf Course land and its perpetual open space conservation easement.

In this most recent episode, Aug 4, Dr Calderon linked the homeless crisis to the inaction by Hancock and Herndon, using PHGC land issue and the charter amendment as a lens focusing on why this is a city-wide issue.

These Brother Jeff interview videos follow his November 2019 interview with Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca regarding the Park Hill Golf Course land.

You can find the videos of his interviews with Tony Pigford and Leslie Twarogowski using the following links:

 

 

 

Brother Jeff has also produced two in-depth and thought-provoking videos that chronicle his insights into gentrification while walking in and around two recent northeast Denver real estate development projects: (1) the Park Hill Commons and Fairfax Row development project on the east side of the 2800 block of Fairfax Street and (2) the Skyland Village development project on the old East Denver YMCA property at 3540 East 31st Avenue. Join Brother Jeff as he shares his experiences and observations about gentrification while touring these properties.  We thank Brother Jeff Fard for allowing us to share these videos.

 

 

 

 

Stop With The Spin

Greater Park Hill News, July 2020

Former Mayor Wellington E Webb

wellington-webb

I was elected to three terms by Denver voters as Denver’s first African American mayor because they trusted me to represent all residents.

That’s why it infuriates me that some people are trying to spin an open space issue into a racial divide. They are attempting to pit neighbor against neighbor and create a narrative that nobody outside of the Park Hill neighborhood cares that Denver’s last large tract of open space could turn into another concrete jungle.

Let me set the record straight.

It is false that the 155 acres of open space at the Park Hill Golf Course is just a neighborhood issue. This is a Denver issue. This tract of land – the last large tract in Denver not gobbled up by developers – is just as important as our mountain parks and other land our forefathers had the wisdom to purchase and set aside for generations. What if their attitudes had been similar to some of our council representatives today? Red Rocks likely would be a subdivision.

Most importantly, I take very seriously a promise I made to voters citywide in 1998 who agreed to pay $2 million to protect that golf course land from development.

I’m urging the Denver City Council to place this issue on the November ballot because all voters should have a say.

Last month, some city council members made misleading statements. One council member mentioned that that Park Hill Golf Course used to be less inviting to Black golfers, which was true more than 50 years ago during the time that African Americans could not buy homes east of York Street.

But in the last 30 years, the course was very popular with Black golfers, including the late Councilman Bill Roberts, former District Attorney Norm Early, Denver School Board member Ed Garner and many Black residents golfers. It is misleading and unfortunate that anyone would create a narrative that this is a racial issue.

Bringing race into this issue is just an attempt to muddy the waters. People of all races enjoy and value open space. And Park Hill residents know when a developer is trying to use them to line his pockets.

As mayor I made a promise and let me make it very clear I will not stand by quietly while people – some of whom worked side by side with me for decades – now are getting paid by the developer to undo that promise. Voters in this city deserve to have their voices heard.

Let the people decide. Why be afraid of your electorate? Let the people decide.

Wellington Webb, Whittier

Read article here

Stop With The Spin