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City Park Golf Course To Close Nov. 1

Lawsuit To Halt Stormwater Project Fails, Judge Calls Loss Of Trees ‘Materially Detrimental’

by Cara DeGette

 A legal challenge to stop the city from proceeding with an extensive drainage project at City Park Golf Course failed in late October, giving the green light to the City of Denver to proceed with plans to redesign the golf course, including chopping down 261 trees on the course and bulldozing the existing golf club.

The golf course is next to City Park, between Colorado Boulevard and York Street and 23rd and 26th avenues. It is scheduled to close as of Nov. 1, and will remain closed for as long as two years while the project, which is part of the Platte to Park Hill project, is underway.

 

In a 24-page ruling, Denver District Court Judge David Goldberg noted “the loss of a mature (tree) canopy is materially detrimental to the habitat and the neighborhood,” but that the Denver Parks and Recreation department, which is directed by Allegra “Happy” Haynes, has the legal right to make the decision to proceed with the project.

An estimated two-thirds of the trees tagged for removal are mature.

In a statement Aaron Goldhamer, the attorney for the plaintiffs, expressed disappointment.

Goldhamer highlighted portions of Judge Goldberg’s ruling, including the possibility that regrading the golf course may result “in detrimental changes to the health of the soil and remaining trees.” In addition, the judge acknowledged the “significant detriment” to Denver residents should the course lose its historic designations – which he acknowledged is a real possibility.

In the end, though, the judge found that existing law allows city officials to proceed with their plans.

“Judge Goldberg noted he was ‘loath’ to see the [golf] course close, but that his hands were tied under existing law to defer to our elected officials and their appointees,” Goldhamer said. “To ensure that Denver’s parks are protected in the future, we may need new laws or new elected officials.”

In October, Denver officials held two meetings at the clubhouse at City Park Golf Course to detail the plans of the redesign of the course and what will be the new clubhouse.

Also in full autumn display were the hundreds of mature trees on the golf course that had been tagged with bright yellow tape. The tape identified those trees that were designated to be chopped down and removed. City officials maintain that new trees will be planted in the area as part of the redesign. However, opponents point out those trees will be saplings, and it will take decades to restore the tree canopy that will be lost.

At the Saturday meeting, at least 20 people carried signs protesting the demise of the trees, mingling with city staff and contractors who were displaying their design plans for the stormwater detention and the new clubhouse.

Louis Plachowski, who serves on the board of both City Park Friends and Neighbors and Greater Park Hill Community, carried a petition opposing the project that he said has been signed by 4,000 people.

Nancy Kuhn, a spokeswoman for Denver Public Works, maintained that “there is a lot of support” for the project. The city, she said, plans to collect all comments submitted and respond to the feedback.


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