Denver Democrats Endorse Protecting Park Hill Golf Course Land Conservation Easement

Denver Democrats Endorse Continued Protection of Park Hill Golf Course Land

Call for Denver City Council to Maintain Perpetual Conservation Easement

 

Denver, CO – With the future of the Park Hill Golf Course land open space potentially threatened after the recent sale of the land, The Democratic Party of Denver gave a thundering vote of support for preservation Saturday, calling on Denver’s City Council to continue to protect the perpetual conservation easement that prohibits development of the land, maintains it as open space, and opens the door to potentially turn it into a park.
The Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Denver voted nearly unanimously in favor of a resolution supporting the continued protection of the conservation easement at its semi-annual meeting of its members.  The resolution passed by a margin of over 90%, with only a handful of members voting against the resolution.  There are 564 members of the Central Committee, which is made of Precinct Committee Persons from every precinct in the city, all Democratic Party officers at the local, state, and national level who live in Denver, and all elected officials in local, state, and federal offices who are Democrats and Denver residents.
“Save Open Space Denver’s mission is to preserve this unique 155-acre parcel of urban open space for our city,” said Harry Doby, a Save Open Space Denver leader. “With this vote urging City Council to protect and preserve the conservation easement, we are one step closer to our goal to one day see this become a regional park.”
A conservation easement was first attached to the land during Mayor Wellington Webb’s tenure, and a new version was granted in July 2019.  The Conservation easement can only be removed by a majority vote of City Council and in compliance with the Colorado conservation easement statute.  Existing concerns about Denver’s commitment to the conservation easement were heightened when the land was sold in 2019 to Westside Investment Partners, Inc., a real estate development company, at a price well above its appraised value with the new conservation easement attached, but well below its value as development property.  Webb has been a vocal proponent of maintaining the conservation easement on the land — the largest undeveloped tract that could be available to fill Denver’s park shortage — citing the city’s shrinking open space to population ratio, rising ozone levels and incidences of lung disease, and increasing impermeable concrete surfaces.
“I am delighted that the Denver Democrats passed a resolution supporting protecting open space and parks and taking a stance on fighting climate change,” Webb said after the resolution passed.
The Denver Democrats had a brief debate about the resolution, in keeping with their standard protocol, and while recognizing that there are always competing demands for worthy projects when land becomes available, they were unequivocal in their belief that once open space is lost, it can never be reclaimed.
“The support for this resolution reflects the values embedded in the Democratic Party Platform at both the state and county level, and voting our values makes it easy,” said Owen Perkins, a member of the Central Committee who introduced the resolution.  “Our county platform calls for us to expand and preserve Denver’s parks, wetlands, and green and open spaces, and our state platform affirms that the health of our land, air, and water — and the health of future generations — cannot be bought and sold.”
For more information about the perpetual open space conservation easement covering the Park Hill Golf Course land, including the full text of the resolution passed by The Democratic Party of Denver, please visit https://sosdenver.net/.
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4 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. kwtreekwtree says:

    You go, Harry Doby. Keep green, open  space in northeast Denver. Working class folks need oxygen and plants , sweeping vistas of the mountain skyline. Congratulations on the Denver Democrats vote….now onward to City Council. 

    • harrydobyharrydoby says:

      Thanks kwtree!  The support last Saturday blew me away.  Folks I spoke with were very aware of the issue and were happy to vote for it.

      Gaining the support of hundreds of community activists in Denver is a significant milestone in our fight to preserve this urban open space for future generations. Central Committee members are the eyes and ears of their neighborhood and represent the views and interests of their neighbors and constituents.  We've already seen how widespread support for increasing our parks is in Denver when Referred Measure 2A passed in 2018 providing around $45 million annually to fund new parks.  Urban parks and open space support a healthy city and healthy citizenry, which should always be among our top priorities.

  2. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Nice work and congrats harrydoby and associates. A battle won in the long fight.

    👍

    • harrydobyharrydoby says:

      Thanks Duke!  Given your background as a homebuilder on the Western Slope, I know you might be interested in a little background about this issue.

      The PHGC land has a long and storied history.  George W. Clayton gave it to the city over 120 years ago.  90 years ago it became a golf course for the use of all Denver residents.  23 years ago the perpetual conservation easement promising the land would never be developed was granted by the owner in exchange for $2 million of taxpayer money. There is no expiration date on that promise to Denver citizens.

      When a private developer bought the land last July, they were fully aware of the protection the conservation easement provided.  They placed more than $24 million on the table and spun the roulette wheel gambling that they would hit their lucky number stripping away that protection.

      The city's Community Planning and Development department just recently revealed they plan to start the Small Area Plan process restricted to just the 155 acres covering the former golf course. This premises the discussion around the false narrative that there are no other viable properties available. Development in Denver, much less northeast Park Hill, will not grind to a halt if this unique urban open space is preserved. Properties are bought and sold in Denver every day.  A look at Denver property records last November showed that there were about a dozen available properties within walking distance of PHGC land.  There may be more today, given the interest in this neighborhood that this controversy has stirred.

      Denver has a problem with our lack of adequate affordable, missing middle housing.  Metro tax districts controlled by private developers issuing tens and hundreds of millions in debt put homebuyers on the hook for huge property tax surcharges. With skyrocketing prices, building on green space is prohibitively expensive due to the infrastructure required (roads, sidewalks, utilities, etc.), where instead redeveloping old commercial or industrial properties can result in much lower expenses.  If Colorado had a public bank, chartered for making low interest loans for infrastructure, or student loans and other socially beneficial purposes, we wouldn't have the current problem of surprise property tax bills or conflicts of interest when the buyers of the bonds are the very people that authorized their issuance behind closed doors.

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