Debate continues over Denver's flood control project at City Park Golf Course

Project aims to prevent catastrophic floods
Posted at 5:38 PM, May 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-20 20:42:21-04

DENVER – Those who frequent City Park Golf Course know it’s a Denver landmark, but it will soon also be the site of a proposed flood control project.

"What we’ve come to love is still going to be there and it’ll be better,” Denver's Parks and Recreation executive director Happy Haynes said. “We’re really taking advantage of nature and where water flows."

Haynes added that the new golf course design of the Platte to Park Hill storm-water system would preserve the historic course. 

The city plans to introduce a design that would make the course more challenging for some. Haynes said after construction, the course would be accessible to golfers of all levels.

“We’re going to have an opportunity to make it a little more playable and design it so it functions better,” Haynes added.

Ultimately, the city said the project would protect northeast neighborhoods from potentially catastrophic flooding, but not everyone is convinced this is the answer.

“The drainage system is going to do nothing for our established neighborhoods and we’re just paying for it,” Bridget Walsh argued.

Walsh is with the group City Park Friends and Neighbors.

Waste-water fees would pay for the system -- one Walsh said would ruin the historic course.

“People love City Park Golf Course, they love City Park. They do not want it destroyed to install a storm water, a utility, an industrial utility storm water mitigation pond,” she said.

However, Haynes emphasized the project isn’t about making City Park Golf Course go away.

The city was considering two low points identified by its engineers, including the golf course and a three-block area in the historic Cole neighborhood. An original proposal would have taken up to 55 homes in the Cole Neighborhood but the city has since moved away from that idea.

Since City Park Golf Course has been approved for the flood control project, three proposals were being weighed. Two of them included demolishing and relocating the clubhouse. According to the city, 25-35 acres would be used for detention.

  • Option 1 would take out 153 of the 872 trees located on golf course property. It would cause the least disruption to the golf course.
  • Option 2 is more extensive and would take out 280 trees.
  • Option 3 would remove 246 trees.

One aspect that has caused concerns for both sides are the trees planted at the course. Haynes said the city is working to identify trees of high and historic value to keep.

“We certainly have no intentions of making it anything other than the wonderful City Park Golf Course that it has always been,” Haynes said.

While the city has offered plenty of opportunity for community members to engage with city leaders, many concerned residents said they do not feel heard.

“They have these public meetings, so-called. They have PR firms run them, and they’re really to publicize the Mayor’s agenda. They don’t really listen. They don’t talk about health and safety issues,” Walsh argued.

Haynes addressed some misinformation published through the internet. A release by City Park Friends and Neighbors mentioned several new projects would provide the infrastructure for a Winter Olympics bid.

Denver7 asked Haynes about the allegations. She said, “I have no idea where that came from. The project has nothing to do with Olympics.”