Park Hill golf course preservationists say they hold a trump card to stop development

Some want all the trees and grass to stay. Others want some trees and grass, but homes and businesses too. Courts might end up deciding.

David Sachs The Denverite 10-23-2019

Woody Garnsey leads a rally on the edge of Park Hill Golf Course demanding the space not be redeveloped. Oct. 22, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denverites resisting development on golf course land in Park Hill say a recent change to state law gives their cause a leg up over developers and the Hancock administration, who see the green swathe as a place for homes, businesses and parks.

The 155-acre chunk has been entangled in a legal and political jungle for about three years with four big players arguing over its future: the city government, former golf course operator Argus, the land’s original nonprofit owner Clayton Early Learning, and developer Westside Investment Partners.

Westside bought the land from Clayton in July for $24 million. While various lawsuits endure, the big question right now is whether Westside will be able to build stuff.

Save Open Space Denver, a group backed by former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, claims the company cannot. Members held a press conference Tuesday to amplify a state law signed in June that they say makes it harder to kill an agreement that protects the land from development. The agreement, known as a conservation easement, has been a part of the golf course’s deed for decades.

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb speaks at a rally on the edge of Park Hill Golf Course demanding the space not be redeveloped. Oct. 22, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The law states that it cannot be terminated unless a court says the conditions on or around the golf course have changed to make its continued conservation impossible. Advocates say the language makes building illegal.

“I believe that Westside wasn’t aware of that (law), because if you take a look at when the deal was closed, it was closed right after the law went into effect,” Webb said.

Denver City Council members Debbie Ortega and Candi CdeBaca have asked the mayor’s office for its legal opinion in an official letter

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

Save Open Space Denver Press Release

PRESS RELEASE Contact: Harry Doby (ph. 303-870-0494)

Woody Garnsey (720-273-4600)

OCTOBER 22, 2019

Open Space advocates claim new state law makes Park Hill Golf Course land off-limits to commercial, residential development.

Individual City Councilmembers look to City Attorney for confirmation.

“In 1997, when I signed the conservation easement into law, the intent was to ensure that this parcel of land would continue as a golf course or was used for recreational purposes.  I believed then as I believe now,  it is critical for the health and welfare of our community that our children, families and seniors have access to open space. We made a commitment to be good stewards of our land and to ensure we are leaving our children and our children’s children a city that values green space. Today, we see that state law agrees with us and that Park Hill Golf Course land is off limits to commercial and residential development.” Hon. Wellington E. Webb

Keep It Colorado stands behind perpetual conservation easements. A perpetual easement is a tool intentionally used to protect land forever, put in place for a purpose and with an expectation from the public that it will be honored in perpetuity. We believe the law is clear on upholding perpetual easements and that terminating an easement requires a judicial process and proof that it is impossible to uphold the conservation values of the easement.” Melissa Daruna, Executive Director of Keep It Colorado

The Colorado law known as HB 19-1264, passed and signed by the Governor this year, makes it virtually impossible for the City and the land-owner real estate developer to terminate the Conservation Easement that covers the Park Hill Golf Course land.

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Open Space advocates claim new state law makes Park Hill Golf Course land off-limits to commercial, residential development

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October 21, 2019

Open Space advocates claim new state law makes Park Hill Golf Course land off- limits to commercial, residential development.

Please see the following letter to City Council which includes a statement by Jessica E. Jay. Jessica E Jay has been practicing land conservation law for 21 years. She represents landowners and easement holders including statewide, regional and local land trusts.

Please see the entire letter here

Request To City Attorney To Provide Opinion To Council

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On October 22 2019 Council Women Candi CdeBaca and Deborah Otega requested from the City Attorney Kristin Bronson that she  provide City Council with an opinion letter regarding the power of the City and Westside to terminate, release, extinguish, or abandon the conservation easement in whole or in part and the legal and/or administrative role of City Council in connection with any such action regarding the conservation easement. Council needs this legal input for reasons including the fact that their constituents have expressed strong interest in the conservation easement and the fact that issues could soon arise regarding the Park Hill Golf Course land in connection with the Large Development Review process of the Community Planning and Development Department.

Please see the full letter here.

Will You Sign Our Petition?

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Park Hill Golf Course is the last large (155 acre) open space in Denver sitting along Colorado Blvd. between 35th and 40th Avenues. In 1997, Mayor Wellington Webb championed the preservation of this open space by purchasing a $2 million conservation easement from the Clayton Foundation to last in perpetuity.  Clayton sold their development rights to Denver and Denver tax payers paid the bill. Only City Council can release the conservation agreement.

Denver has increasingly lost open space in favor of development and is on the rise for air and water pollution, and flood risks for lack of permeable surface. The schedule closing date for the sale of the Park Hill Golf Course is July 11th by Westside Investment Partners, a seasoned developer.

Denver was once known as a City within a park. Sign this petition in favor of upholding the Conservation Easement in perpetuity and let our elected officials know that the citizens of Denver voted for 2A and want to see action.

Sign the petition here http://chng.it/NzyMjDGL