Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Future of the Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC)
Land Conservation Easement and Open Space
What is the PHGC land conservation easement?
The City-owned conservation easement protecting the PHGC land was granted to the City on July 11, 2019. The conservation purposes of the easement are to maintain the land’s “scenic and open condition” and to preserve the land “for recreational use.” Current permitted uses listed in the conservation easement are a golf course, tennis courts and ball fields.
A conservation easement is an interest in real property created in accordance with and governed by the Colorado conservation easement statute (C.R.S. §38-30.5-101 et seq.). A conservation easement puts limits on the use of land in order to maintain it, among other things, “predominantly in a natural, scenic or open condition, or for wildlife habitat…or recreational…or other use or condition consistent with the protection of open land, environmental quality or life sustaining ecological diversity.” While a variety of permitted uses may be allowed, these uses must be consistent with the conservation purposes of the conservation easement.
If the PHGC land conservation easement is preserved, does the land always need to be operated as a golf course?
No. Golf course operation is a permitted use that can be changed by the City and the landowner as long as any new use is consistent with the open space and recreational conservation purposes of the conservation easement. It is legally incorrect for the City and Westside to argue that the land must always be operated as a golf course if the conservation easement is preserved.
Can the PHGC conservation easement be legally terminated?
There are two legal limitations regarding the termination of the PHGC land conservation easement.
First, the Colorado conservation easement statute mandates that the conservation easement cannot be terminated, released, extinguished, or abandoned without a court order that—based on changed conditions on or surrounding the land—it has become impossible to continue fulfilling the open space and recreational conservation purposes of the easement.
Second, by a vote of Denver electors on November 2, 2021, Initiated Ordinance 301 was enacted which prohibits termination, release, extinguishment, or abandonment of the conservation easement and residential and commercial development on the PHGC land without a subsequent vote of Denver electors.
Have the City and Westside secured a court order to allow termination of the PHGC conservation easement?
Are there any facts that would support a court order that—based on changed conditions on or surrounding the PHGC land—it is now impossible to continue to fulfill the open space and recreational conservation purposes of the easement?
We need affordable housing in Denver. If not on the PHGC land, where else should we build?
The Delwest company will soon be building 253 units of affordable housing on 6 acres at 38th and Holly. Similar infill affordable housing should be built around—not on—the PHGC land. There are also 7 acres of Urban Land Conservancy property to the north and in the areas surrounding the 40th and Colorado Train Station where real estate developers have been identified who’ve assembled at least 36 acres and where dense mixed commercial and residential development will occur. The people living and working in these areas will need the open space and recreational benefits of preserving the Park Hill Golf Course land open space.
Has the City performed a traffic study regarding the traffic impacts of mixed-use development on the PHGC land?
What would be the fair market value of the PHGC land if the City would purchase the land for a new regional park?
The fair market value of the PHGC land with the conservation easement in place has an estimated fair market value of $5 million. This is what the City paid in 2019 for two acres of southeast Denver land for a new park. The City could buy the land using the Measure 2A Parks and Open Space 0.25% sales tax monies that Denver voters approved in 2018.
Has the City performed a study regarding the need for parks in the Elyria-Swansea, Clayton and Northeast Park Hill neighborhoods?
Yes. The City commissioned a “Park Hill Golf Course, Parks, Open Space & Recreation Technical Assessment” dated April 2021 that concluded that the Elyria-Swansea, and Northeast Park Hill neighborhoods need 183.5 acres of new park land in order to meet the national average of 13 acres per 1,000 residents. This assessment was never discussed by the Steering Committee that was involved with the 2021-2022 planning process run by the Community Planning and Development Department regarding the PHGC land.
Did the 2021-2022 planning process run by the Community Planning and Development Department include a meaningful analysis of the health and environmental benefits of maintaining the full 155 acres of the PHGC land open space?
Did the 2021-2022 planning process run by the Community Planning and Development Department include planning for any land other than the 155 acres of the PHGC land?
No. The planning process myopically focused only on the 155 acres of the PHGC land.
Did the 2021-2022 planning process run by the Community Planning and Development Department include any critical analysis of the invalid City-commissioned push survey?
Did the 2021-2022 planning process run by the Community Planning and Development Department include any meaningful discussion of the real estate tax impact on market-rate homeowner purchasers of funding the development infrastructure with metropolitan district taxation?
In its 2021-2022 planning process regarding the PHGC land, did the Community Planning and Development Department consider the real estate developer Westside as its “client” or Denver citizens and taxpayers as its “client?”
Community Planning and Development Department documents establish that it considered Westside to be its “client.”
Are the neighborhoods around the PHGC land a food desert?
No. The Park Hill Supermarket just south of the 40th and Colorado Train Station is an excellent grocery store featuring fresh food.