While it may have been at some point, Denver is not a green city today.
Our Denver air pollution is toxic, and our green spaces are disappearing quickly under development. Sadly, our Denver City Council, city planners and permit department continues to not only allow but to encourage development to gobble up any remaining green spaces. While they continue to change our zoning without our permission, the most affordable small & historic homes and their formerly large green landscapes are disappearing under concrete, 4+ car garages, ADUs, and boxy multiplexes and highrises. Mature trees and landscapes are being devoured to make way for more buildings every single day.
Take a look at this Google Map video of the Park Hill neighborhood below and the surrounding areas, we have so few parks and green spaces! And many of the green or open spaces that we have, such as the The Park Hill Golf Course are under attack. While not a "public park," the Park Hill Golf Course is under a conservation easement, which requires the land be used as some sort of open space – but the the new owner, developer Westside Investment Partner, is working hard to get this easement changed to allow for mixed-use development... meaning, MORE BUILDINGS and less green space. Though a golf course isn't the best type of green space, it's still open space in the heart of our city. Denver certainly does NOT need to eliminate any of it's last pockets of open space!
Sadly, the Denver City Council seems to be on the developer side every time when it comes to our neighborhoods and city. We need to protect the little open space that is left in our city before it is gone. Thankfully there are some wise people who care about our city and are trying to fight this developer attack. This November, we will be in a David v. Goliath fight to provide additional protection for this land as a developer wants to extinguish the existing conservation easement and build mixed-use development on the The Park Hill Golf Course. If we care at all about our city, voters must always vote against development on the last of our green and open spaces.
Green spaces are disappearing everywhere in Denver... Here is a 32 year-old Community Garden that is on the chopping block:
The city of Denver and the non-profit Denver Urban Gardens (D.U.G. recently allowed for a developer to purchase one of the few community gardens to become overpriced Duplexes. Another huge loss for our city, the El Oasis Community Garden land was originally donated 32 years ago to the non-profit with the promise to keep it as green space for the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the current leadership at D.U.G. decided to pawn the garden off for money to satisfy debts caused by bad management. And the city of Denver was all too happy to grant permits to allow for this open space to be gobbled up for overpriced, un-affordable condos. Afterall, the city doesn't get to collect as much property tax from a community garden. Shame on D.U.G. and the city for pawning off our scarce green spaces for money! Sure, there will be a sliver of the garden left in the "backyard" of these new housing units, but this is still a huge loss for the community.
Another Denver Green Space on the Chopping Block:
Another one of our last open green spaces to be concerned about is the Johnson & Wales campus. Denver-based nonprofit Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), Denver Public Schools (DPS), and Denver Housing Authority (DHA) have purchased the former Johnson & Wales University Denver campus. What scares us is this: under the deceptive name of the Urban Land Conservancy, this group is not about conserving LAND. Urban Land Conservancy's mission is development, not land conservation – they work on projects that involve the development of income-restricted housing, as well as office space leased to other nonprofit organizations. The company partners with other firms in its development work. Unfortunately, the city will likely allow this beautiful green-space filled campus to be paved over with more concrete and housing. We are happy that there is a chance that some of the existing buildings can be used for expanding the Denver School of the Arts, but it seems imminent that most of the green space will disappear under development. I hope they prove our fears to be unwarranted, and they don't eliminate any of the open/green space that the campus currently provides. Wouldn't it be amazing if they kept the open space and turned it into community food & pollinator gardens for the neighborhood and school? Time will tell how the campus will be transformed.
Why do we need green and open spaces? For our sanity, to help curb the heat-island effect, to allow for trees and green spaces to help moderate our terrible Denver air pollution, to have a quiet place to de-stress (especially if you live in a small noisy apartment and/or with roommates), for wildlife like birds and pollinators to be able to co-exist with us in our city... there are too many reasons to list.
There is already PLENTY of building going on already in Denver, housing is being built everywhere you look – but nobody is adding open spaces. Once our green, open spaces are gone, they're gone. We hope Denver voters will vote to protect what is left of our open spaces before they are gone.