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Community group presses Denver leaders on lack of progress regarding former Park Hill Golf Course decision

Park Hill Golf Course
Posted at 3:11 PM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 00:27:05-04

DENVER — Community group Save Open Space Denver (SOS Denver) is pressing city leaders on why there's been no progress in converting the Park Hill Golf Course into a regional park.

One year has passed since 60% of Denver voters said "no" to Question 2O, which would have lifted the conservation easement on the land, therefore rejecting a proposed development at the former Park Hill Golf Course. SOS Denver is focused on the preservation of the land.

“While we understand the City has experienced an unprecedented year with the influx of Venezuelan refugees and the challenge of trying to provide housing to the homeless, we find it somewhat vexing that no action has been taken after not one, but three election victories to preserve the conservation easement,” said Woody Garnsey with SOS Denver in a statement. "...Our Mayor’s campaign promise was to honor the will of the people and purchase the land back from the developer to build a regional park."

The owners of the land, Westside Investment Partners, gated off the area and hung multiple "no trespassing" signs on the gates.

Members from SOS Denver have been meeting with the Denver City Council and staff from Mayor Mike Johnston's office about purchasing the 155 acres back from Westside Investment Partners with the money from the Measure 2A sales tax Parks Legacy Fund.

"In the meantime, Westside Investment Partners refuses to maintain the land, which they are contracted to do as the property owner," SOS Denver said.

Westside Investment Partners officially purchased the land in July 2019 for $24 million after Park Hill Golf Course went out of business in 2018.

Denver spokesperson Jordan Fuja provided Denver7 with a statement on Monday afternoon: "The city is evaluating appropriate next steps for the Park Hill Golf Course, with a focus on how best to secure the most effective outcomes for Denverites. Mayor Johnston looks forward to working closely with the community to get feedback and innovative ideas for this project."

"If something doesn't happen soon, someone may bring an action to ask a court to decide that question," said Penfield Tate, attorney and member of SOS Denver. "There are limits to what the developer can do, because we the people of Denver own those easement rights."

What to do with the space has been up for debate ever since it went out of business.

It's been a contentious back-and-forth because of the former golf course's history. It was first opened in the 1930s.

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Local News

Park Hill Golf Course: Timeline of its history as the community looks to future

Stephanie Butzer
3:36 PM, Jan 24, 2023

The easement has been in place since former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb made a $2 million deal with Clayton Early Learning in 1997, limiting its use to a daily fee, 18-hole golf course.

Westside Investment Partners said it would develop the land into housing, commercial space and a park, but voters ultimately blocked the changes.

"Members of the community, and frankly, members of the press have been reaching out to us saying, 'It's been a year what's going on? Why hasn't anything happened? And oh, by the way, the place looks like hell,'" said Tate. "So, I'm glad the mayor's office is evaluating, but we want them to stop evaluating and start acting and the first step is to acquire the site."

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