Vote no on 2O to protect open space in Denver that could become Denver's Third Largest Park!
Vote NO on 2O – and help Denver preserve the last of it's precious open space for our community. If you've seen these slick flyers arrive on your door or in your mailbox promising that they'll create Denver's 4th largest park, don't fall for the brainwash (we received three so far this week, boy is this excessive?!) Westside developers are desperate to fool Denver voters into lifting the open space protecting easement on the property they purchased knowing that it was fully protected as open space. They promise grocery stores and affordable housing, but these are empty promises. There is no guarantee a grocery store will be built, and only 10% of the housing built is required to be affordable housing (and even that they can pay fines to eliminate entirely).
The only guarantee is that if we vote NO on 2O that this precious open space will remain open space, protected under the easement that is owned by the city. In fact, if Denver used existing funds to purchase this land back from the developer, then it could be turned into Denver's Third Largest Park! Check out the money the developers are throwing at this:
Does the Denver Park Hill Golf Course have to remain a Golf Course under the easement? No. It can be open space – which could be anything BUT 5-8+ story buildings, such as a park, nature trails and native plant gardens.
The widely promoted myth that if the conservation easement is kept intact, the former golf course would "have to remain a golf course" is UNTRUE. Don't let the developers deceive you, Denver Community Planning and Development has already stated that under the easement the open space does not need to remain a golf course. On March 25, 2021 they stated that "There are a number of outcomes that might not require removing the conservation easement, but simply amending it to remove the golf course use restriction."
What is true is that the developers are not required to build a grocery store, nor are they required to build affordable housing. They can actually pay a fine to eliminate any requirement for affordable housing, so even that is not guaranteed.
Here's a great website with more information about how you can support saving this open space from development: yesopenspace.org
Removing the conservation easement puts ALL conservation easements at risk – making it possible for developers to pay people off to get protective easements lifted after buying the land for dirt cheap, as they did with the Park Hill Golf Course. So beware of this terrible precedent and vote NO on 2O.
Would you rather have years of construction pollution and noise while they erect 5-8 story buildings and concrete with no guarantee of park space, grocery stores or affordable housing? Or, would you rather have a tree filled park with trails, natural areas, and open space? The choice IS surprisingly simple, vote NO on 2O.
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Great post from Next Door:
The Westside Misinformation Campaign… Coming Daily to a Mailbox Near You
When you have lots of money, you can put out lots of glossy flyers. But much of what Westside and the City are saying about Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC) is deceptive, including Measure 2O itself, which begins with:
"Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver authorize the release of the City-owned conservation easement on privately owned property known as the Park Hill Golf Course, which requires the land to be used primarily for golf-related purposes, and allow for commercial and residential development…," etc.
The tone of the first sentence suggests the City somehow imposed an easement on “privately owned property”, when in fact Clayton Foundation agreed to $2 million in 1997 for a perpetual easement that would preserve the land as open space for future generations. Denver has grown by 50% (250,000 people) since then. It’s also NOT required that PHGC remain a golf course if development isn’t allowed; an ongoing deception that was sold to local residents, and now everyone else. City Attorney Kristen Bronson confirmed that modification was possible in the document “City Attorney’s Guidance on PHGC Conservation Easement” (dated Oct 1, 2019), when she stated “Any such change would require a mutual agreement between the City and the landowner.” Exactly what Mayor Webb and others have said- the City and owner (Westside) could agree to allow “park” open space as well, but neither is willing because “golf course” perfectly serves the purpose of encouraging development, since no one wants a golf course.
Westside’s flyers, meanwhile, claim they’ll donate “100 acres” of parks/open space, creating Denver’s “4th largest park”. That’s false. 25 acres to the north must remain open for flood detention. Westside didn’t “donate” these and they’ll likely have only simple paths and grass that can’t be damaged by standing water. The 75 acres left will have about 15 within the construction to the west. Adding them to Westside’s park acreage would be like adding 17th Ave Parkway to City Park. The actual created park, with nice landscaping, playing fields, large tree canopy, playgrounds, structures, amenities, etc., will be about 60 acres, making it Denver’s 6th largest park- 1/5th the size of City Park.
The flyers also claim a yes vote gets “$60 million for roads, sidewalks, and infrastructure”, failing to mention the City-approved metro districts allow Westside to pass infrastructure costs on to new residents (in the 75% of units not designated affordable), doubling their taxes and likely increasing gentrification due to costs. They further claim “$150 million in benefits to the community” from the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), yet that isn’t in the CBA or the Development and Land Exchange Agreement with the City. Has anyone scrutinized these numbers, who doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcome?
Westside paid $24 million for 155 acres, or $155,000 an acre, when the actual unencumbered land value (without easement) is likely 5 to 10 times higher. Until an independent appraisal is done, the true value won’t be known to the public or discussed by Westside. That’s not accidental. When adding the value of what’s to be constructed to their low purchase price, Westside is likely up hundreds of millions of dollars. They can stand to appear very generous and socially conscience, knowing they’ll still make a killing. It’s possible they could have created 40-50% affordable units, covered all the infrastructure costs and other commitments, and still walked away with tens of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, the City basically gave away a valuable community asset with little oversight; its last large open space forever; when nearby areas could also be used for affordable housing and development.
No “good deal” needs to be continually sold on a foundation of misinformation. There’s something wrong here. It’s time to put the brakes on until much more scrutiny can be had, by a new Mayor and Council. – E.S.
DENVER VOTERS, VOTE NO ON 2O.