The fight for the future of Denver's Park Hill Golf Course is teeing up a battle between former Mayor Wellington Webb and Mayor Michael Hancock.
Driving the news: Advocacy group Save Open Space — of which Webb is a member — filed a community lawsuit June 23 against Hancock, the city and the head of its planning department, Laura Aldrete, to prevent development on the 155-acre golf course.
- The group claims the Hancock administration is illegally making plans for the property despite the land being bound by a conservation easement that was enacted under Webb in 1997, which can only be lifted by a court order.
Why it matters: The Park Hill Golf Course represents Denver's last undeveloped land parcel, and the escalating debate over its fate reflects the rising tension between preservation and development as the city's growth soars and its affordable housing crisis deepens.
- It's also driving conversation around the importance of open space in a historically underserved neighborhood.
What else: Save Open Space gathered enough signatures to secure a measure on this November's ballot. Denver residents will be asked to decide whether to turn the property into a park.
- Yes, but: Westside Investment Partners has another ballot measure in the works to thwart the effort. The developer, which co-owns the property, wants to build a mixed-use development on the land with at least 60 acres of park space.
What they're saying: "The city is wastefully spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a major planning and development process for land that cannot be developed without a court order under Colorado law," Penfield Tate, one of the plaintiffs suing the city, said in a statement.
- The other side: The city's planning agency argues that it "routinely embarks" on community planning processes for large parcels of land and insists this is no different.
What to watch: A rift between Webb and Hancock — the latter of whom described the former as a "mentor, friend and confidant since early in my career" when he was first elected mayor in 2011 — could be growing, as the battle around the Park Hill Golf Course is just heating up.
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