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After controversial beginning, excitement builds as new City Park Golf Course is transformed

Opponents still have major concerns
Posted at 7:25 PM, Oct 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 22:55:56-04

DENVER – Work crews are doing final contouring on the new City Park Golf Course, which is slated to reopen on a limited basis in September of 2019.

The golf course has been redesigned to handle runoff from a major storm event better.

Denver Public Works Communications Director Nancy Kuhn said the project is one of four in the Platte to Park Hill Storm Water Systems Program, including:

  • Globeville Landing Outfall & Park Expansion
  • 39th Avenue Open Channel & Open Space
  • City Park Golf Course Integrated Stormwater Detention
  • Park Hill Detention & Stormwater Pipes
  • Kuhn said the projects are designed to prevent flooding in the Montclair Basin.

“This basin is the area of town that is most at risk for flooding because the infrastructure is undersized,” she said. “It’s aging, and we have no natural waterway, no gulches or things like that to move water, so we’re constructing a system.”

Kuhn said water from a ten-year or 100-year event would be stored in a detention area constructed on the course until storm drains in the neighborhoods to the north and northwest have emptied.

First Look

Today, news crews got a first-hand look at the work that’s been accomplished so far.

Kuhn pointed to a 102-inch triple brick stormwater pipe that was put in place in 1933.

“We’ve opened it up,” she said so that the water can flow above ground.

“We’ve got a trash vault that’s going to pull out trash that comes through the pipe,” she said. “We have a detention area where sediments can settle and then we’re going to have a meandering greenway where water can flow through natural grasses and be cleaned naturally.”

Fairways and Greens Planted

Work crews have already planted most of the fairways and greens and are working on the final ones on the west side of the course.

“It’s going to be amazing,” said Scott Rethlake, Denver’s director of golf. “Hale Erwin has been out here three times and has walked the course with us.”

Rethlake said Todd Schoeder, of Icon Golf Studio, is the designer and that Erwin is the consulting architect.

“Hale has done a few in-field changes, like moving a bunker here, moving a green there, tweaking it a little bit, making it better and more interesting,” Rethlake said.

The golf director said he’s excited because opening day is getting closer.

Clubhouse Views

Rethlake said the new clubhouse will be a significant improvement over the old one.

He said there would be plenty of room in the basement to store golf carts, and that the upstairs will include two meeting rooms, a Grill that will seat about 40 people, and a patio with room for 60.

“It’ll have an amazing view of downtown and the Front Range,” he said.

Rethlake is also excited about the First Tee Program, which will have space in the clubhouse.

“It’s our junior program and is the second largest in the nation,” he said. “It serves about 7,500 kids a year, teaching them core values and life skills through the game of golf.”

He said the goal is to serve 10,000 kids a year by 2020.


Not everyone is happy with the new changes.

Bridget Walsh liked the old golf course.

“It was on the National Register of Historic Places,” she said. “It was also an Audubon golf course bird sanctuary.”

Walsh, a member of City Park Friends & Neighbors, said in this era of climate change and drought, the city shouldn’t be in a hurry to channel water out to the South Platte River.

“They’re treating stormwater as if it’s a waste product,” she said. “They’re building a huge storm drain to take our precious stormwater out of Denver as quickly as possible.”

“The amount of concrete being used for this project is totally out of line with any modern day creative approach for how we use green space,” said Georgia Garnsey, another member of City Park Friends & Neighbors. “I’m horrified.”

Walsh said the detention area is being constructed to protect the soon to be expanded I-70, which will be built below grade.

“I would like to see CDOT and Denver abandon plans to widen the highway and instead reroute it onto I-270 and I-76,” she said.

Walsh said another big concern is the loss of more than 200 trees, which were felled for the detention area.

“Trees are one of Mother Nature’s best stormwater mitigators,” she said.

Walsh also expressed concern about CDOT’s plans to place I-70 below grade in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood which is part of the I-70 and Vasquez Boulevard Superfund site.

Heavy metals from previous precious metal smelting operations contaminated the soil in the area.

“Our scientists have found that their remediation was based upon a questionable theory that the pollution fell from the sky, from the old smelter smokestacks,” she said. “We’re finding that there is really not any evidence to substantiate that theory in the EPA’s own documents.”

September Opening Date

Rethlake told Denver7 that anyone who remains skeptical about the remake of the golf course should visit once it opens.

He said construction should wrap up by May of next year, and then they’ll give the turf a few months to fully establish itself.

He said they’ll open on a limited basis in September and will open full time in the Spring of 2020.

“Hold your judgment until you come out,” he said. “I think you’re going to be very, very happy.”