Denver Development

Dueling Park Hill Golf Course Easement Initiative Makes Ballot

The Park Hill Golf Course has inspired turf wars.
The Park Hill Golf Course has inspired turf wars. Anthony Camera
Westside Investment Partners, the development firm that owns the defunct Park Hill Golf Course, spent over a quarter-million dollars to help land an initiative on the November ballot that would ensure the company has a clear path to eventually develop the 155-acre property — if Denver City Council lifts the conservation easement that currently governs its use, that is.

And it looks like money well spent, because the Denver Elections Division just determined that the initiative has made the ballot.

"We have completed our review of the petition submitted by Committee for a Conservation Easement for an Initiated Ordinance; 9,661 signatures were determined to be valid and the measure will appear on the November 2, 2021 ballot," the division tweeted early in the afternoon of July 27.

According to June finance reports, Westside paid $268,305 on signature-gathering for the campaign, which is designed to counter the Yes for Parks and Open Space initiative pushed by Save Open Space Denver that's already on the November 2 ballot, and calls for a citywide vote before any conservation easement can be lifted.

Westside and city lawyers interpret the Park Hill Golf Course conservation easement, which has been in place since 1997, as only allowing for the primary use of the property as an eighteen-hole golf course. But Save Open Space Denver, which counts former Mayor Wellington Webb and former state legislator Penfield Tate as members, interprets the conservation easement as allowing for general open space, which would permit a municipal park; the group would like to see the easement remain and a city park put on the property.

The Yes for Parks and Open Space initiative and the Committee for a Conservation Easement initiative have nearly identical language. However, the Committee for a Conservation Easement initiative defines "conservation easement" in a way that excludes the conservation easement on the Park Hill Golf Course from being subject to a citywide vote. If voters approve both initiatives in November — and now they'll have a chance to do so — then the Committee for a Conservation Easement initiative would render the Yes for Parks and Open Space initiative moot.

The status quo would remain in place and Denver City Council could lift the Park Hill Golf Course conservation easement, as long as a district court judge grants it the right to do so.
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