More Interest Park Hill Golf Course

Three good articles have been written recently about INC proposal that the City Of Denver purchase Park Hill Golf Course if it becomes available.

When it comes to parkland, can you have too much?

by

Life On Capitol Hill August

art three in a series covering the pressures Denver’s parks face.

The city is moving closer to a contract with concert promoter Superfly for a multi-day music festival at Overland Golf Course and, at least in the Overland neighborhood, tensions remain high with a vocal faction still openly opposed to the festival. As that group, led by Helene Orr, continues its campaign, citywide residents are asking how much parkland is enough, and is Denver’s overall acreage sufficient for its population? Additionally, could large and numerous events in Denver parks ruin the city’s parks’ character? And, given the seemingly unending influx of new residents, are Denver’s parks crowded? The answers could be: never enough, maybe, it’s debatable and, per that last question and according to a recent Profile reader survey, yes.

In the last installment of this series it was reported The Profile had created a reader survey with questions pertaining to conditions in Denver parks. While not a large sampling, The Profile received 70 responses, and in response to the first statement, “Denver’s parks are more crowded than they used to be,” 58 respondents, or nearly 83 percent, either strongly (42.86 percent) or somewhat (40 percent) agreed.

However, in the face of the perception that parks are more crowded, Denver has actually added to its urban parkland inventory over time, and available acreage per resident has increased in recent years. As reported in the June issue of The Profile, “In 2014, there were nearly nine urban park acres per 1,000 residents (8.94). In 2016? The same, if not a little more: 8.97.”

So, where does Denver rank among similarly sized cities? Depending on how you hash the data, almost in the middle of 12 comparable cities, it turns out. According to the 2017 City Park Facts report issued by The Trust for Public Land, Denver is 8.3 percent parkland, seventh among the medium-high-density cities (its category) listed. Honolulu is first at 33 percent. Honolulu does skew the average to 8.9 percent parkland, and the set of cities listed is small (12).

“Overall, quite honestly, [Denver] has a very strong outdoor culture, [it] has a very strong recreation culture, but [it] also has a lot of growth, but on balance, things are pretty good. If [Denver] continues to make investments in terms of bond elections, which increase the overall spend, and [Denver] is looking to add parkland, those are both really good steps in the right direction.”

It’s nice to know where Denver sits compared to other cities, but is the city really serving its citizens through its parks? The Trust for Public Land curates a website called parkscore.com, and that site compiles their data into an easy-to-understand score for almost all of America’s major cities. At the top of the list with a score of 87.5 (100 is the top threshold) is Minneapolis. Denver scores a 64, ranking 20th in the list. What factors weighed most heavily in this score?

“One third of the score is acreage, one third is access and one third is investment,” says Charlie McCabe, Directory for City Park Excellence with The Trust for Public Land. “For acreage, what we look at is the median park size, which for Denver is pretty good, 6 acres is the median. The national median for the 100 largest cities is 5.” He adds that Denver, being 8-plus-percent parkland, is actually behind the national average of 9 percent.

“In terms of access,” McCabe adds, “which is one of our big metrics, [Denver] is doing really well. [Denver] is at 86 percent and is 22 points ahead of the median.” Meaning 86 percent of Denverites are within a 10-minute walk of a park.

Lastly, in terms of investment, the third category, Denver spends $116 per resident, and that spending includes one-time investments and regular budgetary spending. The Trust for Public Land averages the last three years of spending to arrive at this number.

“Overall, quite honestly, [Denver] has a very strong outdoor culture, [it] has a very strong recreation culture, but [it] also has a lot of growth, but on balance, things are pretty good. If [Denver] continues to make investments in terms of bond elections, which increase the overall spend, and [Denver] is looking to add parkland, those are both really good steps in the right direction.”

If Denver needs more park land, where does it get it?

At its April 8 Delegate Meeting, Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC), the forum for Denver’s registered neighborhood organizations (RNOs), passed a resolution calling on the City and County of Denver to make room in the General Obligation Bond Proposal (GO Bond) for the acquisition of a privately held, but soon-for-sale, golf course in the Park Hill neighborhood. The Park Hill Golf Course, as it is known, is an asset of the Clayton Early Learning Trust. According to its website, Clayton Early Learning aims to “improve early care and education to ensure optimal development during the critical “prenatal-to-5 period” for all children, especially those of limited opportunity.”

The city did not heed the call, and GO Bond funding was not dedicated. So, why is INC urging the city purchase this land? INC Parks and Recreation Committee Co-Chairs Cindy Johnstone and Maggie Price wrote in an email interview that they see the purchase of the 155 acres the course represents as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a large, contiguous parcel of open space close to central Denver.”

“Once land is gone, it is gone,” Price wrote. She and Johnstone are optimistic, though, that the city will move to acquire the land mostly because, as they see it, it makes sense “for the many new residents in central Denver. Park Hill Golf Course is a five-minute ride on the A Line and a 10-minute walk from the stop, including an underground corridor to cross Colorado Boulevard. There is also access from I-70 if driving and bus access along Colorado Blvd. The communities surrounding Park Hill Golf Course are currently listed in the lowest category of the equity index evaluated by the city.”

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Should this Denver golf course become a public park and affordable housing? It’s up for debate this week.

“Golf courses are in trouble in Denver,” said Councilwoman Robin Kniech. “We are looking at the potential closure — well, the certain closure of the Park Hill golf course.”

That was an overstatement, but closure is certainly a possibility for one of the oldest golf courses in the city, according to the people who will make the final decision. Park Hill Golf Club potentially could be replaced with a public park and even some degree of development.

There’s no specific proposal yet, but the land’s nonprofit owner is in the process of figuring out what might happen. If you’ve got something to say about that, you might want to show up for a community meeting this Thursday, Aug. 10.

“Our goal here is to really hear from the community. If you could wave a magic wand over there, what would you like it to be?” said Charlotte Brantley, president and CEO for Clayton Early Learning. The nonprofit is in charge of the land, which is owned by the Clayton Trust.

But it may not be that simple.

Clayton Early Learning wants to generate more money from the land in order to support its goal of providing quality early education for kids from low-income families, Brantley said. The nonprofit announced in June that it would close one of its two schools and limit enrollment at the other.

“We’ve thrown out there that we need $1 million a year in income in one way or another from that piece of land,” Brantley said. To that end, the nonprofit is running a “visioning process” to ask what people might like to see the land become.

“Clearly, people in this community highly value some level of open space or park,” Brantley continued. She also has heard interest in retail, healthy food and housing. It’s possible that the final plan will be some combination, she said — or it could remain a golf course, if there’s enough money and interest.

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Park Hill Golf Course unlikely to survive after 2018

Kailyn Lamb July 20, 2017  Business Den

The clock is ticking for one of Denver’s oldest golf courses.

The Park Hill Golf Club, an 18-hole public course founded in 1931 near Colorado Boulevard and I-70, likely will be developed into something other than a golf course after 2018.

The course is owned by the George W. Clayton Trust, which has a 20-year lease with Texas golf course operator Arcis for $700,000 a year. That deal expires at the end of 2018, said Charlotte Brantley, who manages the trust through her role as CEO of the Denver nonprofit Clayton Early Learning. Brantley said that it was “highly unlikely” that Arcis would renew, given its annual losses of about $200,000 running the golf course.

“They don’t make enough to cover the cost of the lease,” she said.

The golf course was built on pastureland owned by turn-of-the-century philanthropist George W. Clayton. And she said that her nonprofit needs closer to $1 million a year from the property to fund its mission to educate kids, especially as federal funding sources wither.

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