Denver Parks and Recreation Board White Paper

The PRAB approved the below recommendations to the DPR Executive Director Happy Haynes which include a recommendation that the city acquire the PHGC land for a park.

Approved by Parks and Recreation Advisory Board May13, 2020

We, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, recommend to the Executive Director the following for 2020 and 2021:

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we recommend immediately and indefinitely:

An immediate increase in funding for rangers, maintenance, and sanitary facilities (e.g., hand-washing stations and restrooms) on DPR land including parks, trails and parkways. Evaluate and establish protocols and potential safety measures that consider any additional health and safety procedures (e.g., equipment cleaning, etc.).

Consideration of access to our municipal golf courses for pedestrian use of the paved golf cart trails.

 

  • Pursuit of the purchase of the Park Hill Golf Course open space at current market value using the unspent funds from 2019 158-2A tax collections ($26.565 million). We understand that this would be a departure from our earlier recommendations; we feel that the current economic conditions and our current cash-rich position enable us to acquire this land and we see it as a very important addition to our park system. Our intention is to recommend the purchase of this land and to recommend its preservation as zoned open space (OS). The land’s use, whether as a golf course and/or other recreational uses, should be determined through the regular DPR public outreach process after the land is acquired.
  • Achieve and implement a pilot cooperative relationship with DPS for the purpose of developing a significant amenity and/or property access consistent with Game Plan’s goal of ten-minute accessibility.

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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

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