DENVER — Opposing sides on the future of the Park Hill Golf Course property debated late Wednesday morning at a south Denver church. The debate is related to Ballot Measure 20.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Denver (OLLI at DU) hosted the debate. They said the reason for the debate is that people in south Denver may not have had much exposure to the issue, and they want voters to have adequate time and information to make an informed decision.
>Watch the full debate in the video player below
Debate participants had 20 minutes to present their respective cases followed by five minutes of rebuttal by each side. Audience members had 10 minutes to ask questions to the participants.
Westside Investment Partners, who want to develop the golf course property, will be represented by Kenneth Ho, the firm's principal. Westside Investment, which currently owns the 155-acre Park Hill property, wants to turn the parcel into a "transit-oriented development."
Westside said the property would have an 80-acre public park, at least one rec center, a new grocery store and "a substantial amount" of affordable housing.
“How do you value maintaining nearly 2,000 residents – long-term residents of the community who have been there for decades? How do you value keeping them in their homes? Again I would say that’s priceless," Ho said Wednesday to the audience. “I would say what we’re doing here is – it represents equity, it represents fairness, and it represents a good deal not only for the residents of Denver but for the folks who live in and around the area – the neighborhood surrounding the golf course."
Representing the side against Ballot Question 20 will be Wood Garnsey, OLLI at DU said. Garnsey is a long-time Park Hill resident who is part of the Save Open Space Denver group that got Ordinance 301 passed in 2021, which strengthened the conservation easement by giving Denver voters a say on if it will be lifted, OLLI at DU said.
Garnsey questioned the legality of the development, citing several statutes. But also believes that the park could be improved to be used by citizens.
“The land can basically be a turnkey park…” Garnsey suggested. “Terrific improvements can be added to the park – over a period of time. Playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, community gardens…”
He added that he believes the preservation of the space is critical in environmental benefits, including combatting heat islands.
“It’s a real estate asset that we all own – it’s a unique asset in Denver because Denver as I said is dwindling in its park and open space," Garnsey said.
Brothers Redevelopment is an organization in favor of Ballot Measure 20.
Their president, Jeff Martinez, wrote to 9NEWS in a statement in part saying, "We are experiencing an affordable housing crisis in this city, and if passed, it would allow Brothers and other housing providers the chance to develop badly-needed new affordable rental and for-sale housing to the site, at a scale we haven’t seen in this city."
Heather Lafferty, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, is also in favor, and said they would ensure that they are building 300 "affordable for sale home for income-qualified households."
"It is important that we think about how we build community within Denver when land is so challenging – defined as an opportunity to build affordable housing," Lafferty said.
See below for previous reporting 9NEWS has done on the Park Hill Golf Course issue.
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