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City of Denver asking for feedback to finalize draft plan for former Park Hill Golf Course

City asks for feedback to finalize draft plan for former Park Hill Golf course
Posted at 10:32 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 17:13:48-04

DENVER — The City of Denver is moving forward with what it calls the "prevailing vision" for the former Park Hill Golf Course, which includes some development to the praise of some and the disapproval of others.

This week, the City launched its Park Hill Golf Course Online Open House. Through it, city officials hope to gain more citizen feedback as a draft plan for the former golf course is finalized.

Laura Swartz, a spokesperson for the City of Denver's community planning and development department, says the City has identified key components that nearby residents would like incorporated into the space.

"At least a hundred acres of public parks open space, priority housing programs for existing residents, a grocery store at 35th and Colorado, and that there will be ample support — legal, financial, and technical support — for local businesses, particularly businesses owned by people of color," she said.

Through July 7, the online open house will allow people to provide insight on these key components. Once the draft plan is finalized, it will be presented to Denver City Council for a final vote.

Because Denver has a conservation easement on the property, any council-approved plan would require a favorable vote from Denver residents for the easement to be lifted.

The former golf course closed in 2018, and ever since, its future has been the subject of lawsuits, scrutiny and heated debate.

For nearly two years, the City surveyed residents who live within a mile of the 155-acre parcel.

In late 2021, the City released the survey results in what it called a "prevailing vision" plan. At the time, the City said majority feedback indicated nearby residents wanted some form of development for the property.

For some residents like Helen Bradshaw, the proposed ideas feel long overdue.

"All I wanted to do is play," Bradshaw said through tears. "My dad said, "I don't want you hurt, sweetheart. We're going to do it on our grass at home." And he said, "I can't even play there.""

Bradshaw says racism kept her family away from the Park Hill Golf Course following the Civil Rights Movement.

As times changed, the course opened its doors to all. Nonetheless, Bradshaw says the past still stings. She feels the City's plan "restores and replenishes" Denver's historically-Black Park Hill neighborhood.

"It provides — number one is jobs, two is camaraderie, and then others are opportunity and commerce," Bradshaw said.

Norman Harris, a partner at one of the firms that co-owns the Park Hill Golf Course, says he feels the City's ideas are a community-led investment while preserving some open green space.

"There's been a ton of divestment that we've seen over the last 40 or 50 years in northeast Denver, specifically. We are extremely encouraged that along with 100-acre park, the need for housing and food options is pressing," he said.

One of the groups pushing for the former golf course to remain untouched is Save Open Space Denver.

In a statement to Denver7, the grassroots group called the city's planning process a sham, citing ballot Initiative 301, covered extensively by Denver7's partners at The Denver Post.

"This developer continues to ignore Denver voters," said Penfield Tate, spokesman for SOS Denver. "Just last November, 66% of Denver residents said 'no' to concrete and that is what this developer came back with. These so-called 'community meetings' are simply a box they check to say they included community involvement. It's just a sham."