Shared from the 3/2/2019 The Denver Post eEdition

We’re growing park land in Denver

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You may have read recently that Denver is losing park land. That’s simply not accurate.

A series of articles from January, “The Densification of Denver,” implied that Denver is losing park land and open space with no plans to reverse the trend.

And then a recent guest commentary raised concerns about the City of Denver’s commitment to preserving green space at Park Hill Golf Course and elsewhere in the city. The piece also referenced the densification series.

Both the commentary and the flawed reporting are wrong on several counts.

With respect to Park Hill Golf Course, current use restrictions do not allow the city to require the property to be used for a regional park or any open space purpose other than golf. It is not accurate to say that the city is seeking to develop housing on the site, nor is it accurate to say that there is any deal in place for developing the land. The mayor and city attorney have been working diligently to explore ways to acquire this land and if we are successful, the community will have a major say in what happens to it, including preserving it for open space.

On the larger issue of preserving open space and park land, the Hancock administration believes strongly in preserving and acquiring open space as part of an inclusive growth strategy.

Some facts:

Under Mayor Hancock, the city has added 647 acres of parks and open space since 2011.

The Hancock Administration has designated more park land (1,175 acres) than any administration since 1956.

We have also assumed management of more than 400 acres of park land at Stapleton and in the next five years we expect to begin acquisition of an additional 600 acres.

Developers at 9th and Colorado and at 61st and Peña Boulevard have been required to add more accessible open space acreage.

In 2017, we entered into a partnership with the Trust for Public Lands to advance strategies for more green space and park land. This effort, in part, led to Mayor Hancock championing the sales tax initiative, 2A, with City Council President Jolon Clark, to generate $37 million annually for park land acquisition.

In addition, we have increased access and restored many miles of our city’s vital waterways through the River Vision project, restored acres of natural areas, rehabilitated many miles of an aging irrigation system that saves precious water resources annually, treated hundreds of the city’s Ash trees threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer and planted new trees to grow and maintain the urban tree canopy, acquired and built 3 new neighborhood parks and added the city’s largest open space in collaboration with Denver International Airport and the list goes on.

We have been working with the Greenway Foundation for years now to preserve and enhance acreage along the South Platte River — an effort that will restore and protect 450 acres of green space.

Since this is about parks, I will restrain myself from expounding too much about the thousands of units of affordable housing that have been financed and produced, the miles of bike lanes added to improve our city’s mobility options and the more than 100,000 jobs that have been created to make Denver the most economically healthy city in the nation.

In terms of our vision for the future of parks and open space, Denver has a clear roadmap (as one of our critics pointed out) in “Denveright, Comprehensive Plan 2040 and the Department of Parks and Recreation’s own Game Plan. These documents use a holistic approach to address housing, transportation, the environment and the need for more parks and green space for the health of both our citizens and the environment.”

We will soon be engaging the community in the plan for the 2A initiative that will be guided by the Game Plan. Thousands of residents have provided input on the Comprehensive Plan as well as the Game Plan for a Healthy City.

And the community members who have been involved in the planning process for the future of Park HIll Golf Course, led by its owners Clayton Early Learning, have expressed these same values — a balanced, holistic approach to maintaining and building a healthy, thriving and inclusive Denver.

Happy Haynes is the executive director of Parks and Recreation for the City and County of Denver.

See this article in the e-Edition Here