Give Denver voters a say on prized parcel’s fate

Mayor Wellington Webb

By Wellington Webb  Colorado Politics June 1 2020

A well-organized campaign by the developer that wants to plow under 155 acres of open space at the Park Hill Golf Course has several misleading narratives.

First, that this is a racial issue that aims to pit neighbor against neighbor.

Second, that no one outside of the Park Hill neighborhood cares about the last large tract of open space, despite the fact that voters citywide paid $2 million in 1998 to protect it from development forever. When voters vote and approve a bond contract, that is a contract between the city and the voters.

Last month, some Denver 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 resident golfers. It is misleading and unfortunate that anyone would create a narrative that this is a racial issue.

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Webb: Park Hill Golf Course land can and must be preserved under new conservation law

An editorial appearing in the Denver Post 11-13-2019 by Mayor Wellington Webb

The definition of the word conservation is “prevention of wasteful use of a resource,” and Colorado conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements that permanently limit uses of land in order to protect its conservation values for future generations. Until June of this year, Colorado conservation easements like the one that preserves the Park Hill Golf Course land open space could be terminated simply with the mutual agreement of the two parties that created them.

In 2017 the Denver city administration and the landowner, Clayton Trust, thought they would be able to terminate the conservation easement between themselves simply with a wink and a nod and city council approval. Had it not been for Arcis Golf, the company that operated the golf course crying foul, termination of that agreement would have flown under the radar, tucked into a measure for a vote by Denver City Council to approve the sale and development of that 155-acre, tree-filled green space.

Then, in July, Westside Investment Partners, Inc., a real estate development company, purchased the Park Hill Golf Course land for a price far in excess of the land’s appraised value, encumbered as the land was with a perpetual conservation easement and “open space-recreation zoning” in place. They speculated that they would be able to terminate the easement and change the open space-recreation zoning easily — but they were wrong.

This year the Colorado General Assembly took action with a dedicated group of conservation-minded nonprofit land trusts — members of the statewide coalition Keep It Colorado — to successfully strengthen the law governing the termination of conservation easements. On June 30, 2019, House Bill 1264 amended the Colorado conservation easement statute. HB 1264 establishes a higher standard for the entire state and puts the true intent of perpetual conservation easements into practice.

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Webb_ Park Hill Golf Course land can and must be preserved under new conservation law

 

 

Teed Off: How Park Hill Golf Course Ended Up in the Hands of Developers

The Park Hill Golf Course remains one of the largest expanses of open space in metro Denver … for now. Anthony Camera Westword

By  | JULY 30, 2019 | 5:23AM  Westword Magazine

On a recent, blazing-hot Friday, the Educare campus at Clayton Early Learning is abuzz with children playing in t he halls and swarming their teachers. These children, from months-old infants to five-year-olds, enroll in Clayton’s programs through the summer months, receiving research-backed care and evaluation funded by a historic philanthropic trust.

Nearly all of them come from families that live below the poverty line, but you wouldn’t know it looking down the clean, spacious hallway of classrooms in a facility that most public high schools would envy. Clayton’s Educare campus was built in 2006 as an addition to the century-old red-brick Historic Clayton Campus, a registered national landmark on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Colorado boulevards. “Often the families, when they come in here for the first time, go, ‘Wow. I never thought anybody valued me and my child to build us a place like this,’” says Charlotte Brantley, Clayton’s outgoing CEO and president.

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