DENVER — A serene-looking green space at East 35th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Denver makes up the 200-acre Park Hill Golf Course. The open space is sparking intense debate in Denver.
A developer snatched up Park Hill Golf Course in 2019.
Under current rules, it is limited to operating as an 18-hole golf course. But now, the city is asking neighbors if they want to keep it as a golf course or change things up. The City of Denver worked with a market research firm to survey neighbors.
On Tuesday, they released the results of that survey. Four out of five respondents said they want mixed use, including 85% who were in favor of a grocery store, 73% for a park and 67% for affordable housing.
Neighbors shared their thoughts, but some argue their thoughts were influenced by the survey.
“There are obviously many, many legitimate polls and surveys out there and for those, usually, you don’t see loaded questions,” said Ali Besharat, a University of Denver marketing and consumer insight expert.
For decades, the clubhouse of the Park Hill golf course in north-east Denver, Colorado, hosted weddings and graduation parties for residents of nearby neighborhoods. “It’s been a very valuable resource to this community, when you need event space and can’t afford swankier venues,” said Shanta Harrison, who lives eight blocks away.
The 155-acre golf course stands out as an island of green space in the middle of the only remaining neighborhoods in Denver where over 40% of residents identify as African American. And according to state law, it’s supposed to stay that way forever: since 1997, the property has been under a conservation easement – a deed restriction stating that it can never be developed.
But in the last year, the golf course has become a lightning rod in ongoing debates about gentrification, open spaces and racial equity in Denver. In 2019, the developer Westside Investment Partners bought the private golf course, and has since gestured at big plans: a mixed-use vision that includes both market-rate and affordable housing, businesses, as well as a grocery store and a park.
“We bought it because we knew we could do so much better than a golf course,” said Westside principal Kenneth Ho.
President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans for locally- led protection of 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030, a core of his agenda to address climate warming that builds on nature saving efforts launched in Congress by lawmakers from Colorado and other Western states.
Natural land and water could draw down the heat trapping air pollution that causes climate change, scientists say, and nature increasingly is understood as a life support system for human survival both inside cities and in rural areas. Preserving at least 30% of land and water by 2030, they say, is necessary to pull back from a catastrophic tipping point.
Gov. Jared Polis issued a statement casting Colorado as a leader in cooperative “science- based approaches” toward the fulfillment of Biden’s climate objectives.
Colorado conservation groups are positioning the state to play a key role by developing a strategy to save 14 million acres that remain largely undeveloped within the 67-millionacre area of the state — by incentivizing voluntary protective easements on private land, creating new parks in cities and rural areas, and dialing back development on public lands.