“How 155 acres of Northeast Park Hill became a golf course you keep having to vote on.” —The Denverite, March 7, 2023
This post is for Denver voters. Everyone else move on. What follows is mostly quoted from the linked articles. Election time! Ballots are in the mail.
Park Hill Golf Course is the last large (155 acre) open space in Denver, sits along Colorado Blvd. between 35th and 40th Avenues. Yes, that land is on the ballot again, Referred Question 20. “Referred” means this question was initiated by Denver’s administration, Mayor’s office, City Council, and probably Westside Investment et al. Wording on the ballot:
“Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver authorize the release of the City-owned conservation easement on privately owned property known as the Park Hill Golf Course, which requires the land to be used primarily for golf-related purposes, and allow for commercial and residential development, including affordable housing, and public regional park, trail and open space?”
Note the language about it having to be a golf course. No one wants another golf course. Opponents say that is not so, that “open space” is also in the existing easement and the site can easily become a park.
Note the language about affordable housing and park space. How often have developers fulfilled their commitments to build affordable housing? Also, we have a slew of vacant housing right now, at least some of which should be made affordable. No mention of the needed grocery store. The plan says space will be available should someone want to build one.
History: In July 2019, Loretto Heights developer Westside Investment Partners purchased the land from Clayton, which was having financial troubles.
By fall, 2019, former Mayor Wellington Webb and other activists rallied under the name Save Open Space Denver to save the Park Hill Golf Course site from development, arguing the conservation easement should be enough to stop Westside’s plans.
In November 2021, open space advocates floated Initiative 301, a measure requiring a citywide vote to lift a city-owned conservation easement. The developers responded with a competing measure, Initiative 302, to block 301.
“Can developers now ignore conservation easements across the state, buy land at a bargain rate because it is protected from development, and then lobby to get the easements lifted by local elected officials? It’s a dangerous precedent.” —Denver Post editorial, October 18, 2021
Voters passed 301 by a 2-to-1 margin and rejected 302. That was less than two years ago. Now we have to vote on that same issue again.
In January 2022, Community Planning and Development axed Save Open Space and its representative, current mayoral candidate Lisa Calderón from the committee working on the future of the golf course site.
“Given Save Open Space’s stated disagreement with the prevailing vision and the visioning process to this point, we believe that further participation by Save Open Space as part of the committee would only result in further discord within the community and would not be a valuable use of the committee’s or your organization’s time,” Parks and Recreation head Happy Haynes and Community Planning and Development head Laura Aldrete explained in a note to SOS.
Make of that what you will, depending on your “prevailing vision.” The above timeline excerpts are from this more extensive article:
from The Denver Post, 2019, and it must be worse now, link below:
Excluding the undeveloped area around the airport, nearly half the land in Denver’s city limits is now paved or built over — up from less than 20 percent in the mid-1970s, a Denver Post analysis of city and federal data found. And that figure could approach 70 percent by 2040.
Green space in Denver is disappearing faster than in most other cities, with paved-over cover increasing from 19 percent of the city in 1974 to 48 percent in 2018 (not including Denver International Airport), federal and city data show. Up to 69 percent of the city is expected to be paved or covered by 2040. Only New York and a few mega cities exceed that level of what planners call “imperviousness.”
Denver ranks nearly last among major U.S. cities, including New York, in park space as a percentage of total area. It also ranks nearly last in park acres per resident.
There are like a thousand running for mayor and a hundred for council member at-large (I exaggerate) and most of the council district races are also competitive. I heard several at-large candidates speak at a recent neighborhood meeting. I’m backing two who oppose Referred Question 20: Penfield Tate and Sarah Parady. I’ll probably decide my mayoral choice the same way. That, and if they support a “housing first” position for the homeless.