DENVER – Denver City Council Members, other city leaders, and raffle-prize winners were invited to City Park Golf Course on Saturday for the very last round of golf before the area closes to begin work on a controversial storm water drainage project.
The course closed to the public on Tuesday, but a social media contest allowed roughly 20 people the opportunity to take part in a 10 a.m. tee time.
Saturday’s golfers made history.
The group was the last to play on the course as it stands. They will also be the first to play a round of golf on the newly designed course, two years from now.
Neighbors against the controversial development took the opportunity to protest.
Protesters essentially rolled out a white carpet— a petition with more than 4,200 signatures. The petition asked that Mayor Michael Hancock not “destroy the course," as the redesign would include the removal of 261 trees.
“In many ways, these trees are like old friends,” neighbor John Brink said.
Denver7 caught up with Denver’s Golf Director, Scott Rethlake, who said he understood the concerns from neighbors, "but I would hope that they would look toward the future."
Rethlake said he would like protesters to consider what will happen in 50 to 100 years from now.
“I definitely wanted to experience what we were about to lose,” Denver Councilman for District 1, Rafael Espinoza, told Denver7.
He was one of the few council members who accepted the invitation to play. He also wore a “Ditch the Ditch” t-shirt.
“This whole project is unnecessary and we're simply doing it to preserve storm water needs for CDOT,” Espinoza argued.
Denver7 asked Denver Public Works about the necessity for the project. The following information was provided by spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn:
What is the project?
The project is updating City Park Golf Course, while integrating storm-water detention into the course. The storm-water detention areas will temporarily hold and slow floodwaters during major storms, reducing flood risks to homes and businesses downstream.
Why are we doing this project?
The Montclair basin (where City Park Golf Course is located) is the largest basin in Denver without a natural waterway to convey storm-water. It has been identified as an area in greatest need for drainage improvements and most at-risk for flooding in Denver. While the highway and neighborhoods north of the highway may benefit from our drainage improvements, our project is primarily focused on reducing flood risks across a larger portion of the city and providing a backbone for future drainage improvements where they’re most needed. More than 3,800 residential properties will see additional flood protection through the City Park Golf Course detention and 39th Avenue Greenway projects.
Why this site?
The city is integrating storm-water detention into a redesign of City Park Golf Course because it is at this site that storm-water naturally flows and collects. By providing more detention at this site, we can better manage, and slow, the storm-water that flows into the surrounding communities in larger storm events, when the current infrastructure becomes overwhelmed. By utilizing the golf course site, we have been able to minimize our impacts to private property and are able to update the golf course, working closely with the community on the design.
What happens next?
City Park Golf Course will become an active construction site. The first steps in the construction set up process includes:
* Installation of safety awareness and no trespassing signs
* Installation of the perimeter and tree protection fences
* Moving office trailers and equipment to the site
Still, the community clash continues.
Longtime resident John Brink said the “city can destroy many trees, but only God can make a tree.”
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