DENVER — The Regional Transportation District (RTD) board of directors has voted to approve building a park for a National Medal of Honor Museum on property it currently leases, a week after voting against the plan.
The board voted 14-0 Tuesday night, with 1 person absent, to approve the lease of land near Colfax and Lincoln to the Medal of Honor Museum.
The decision to take a second look at the request came less than 24 hours after a board committee voted 7-7 against using the land for the museum last week. Eight votes were needed to move the proposal forward.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock submitted a letter to the RTD Board, urging them to vote in favor of leasing the land to the museum.
It reads in part, "bringing the MOHM to Denver is an opportunity to add a place of reverence and honor to our community."
Hancock also spoke at Tuesday night's meeting, thanking the board for reconsidering and emphasizing how important the land is for the project.
RTD Director Kate Williams said during public comment she will now vote for the Medal of Honor Museum.
Last week, Williams expressed that she wasn't sure about the need for such a museum and that she didn't feel it made sense to sublease land in the heart of Denver for that price for 55 years. Tuesday, she apologized to veterans who she offended last week.
"I am not brave and honorable like the 3,500 awardees who will be enshrined in the museum across the street from the RTD property," said Williams. "I apologize to those veterans and all the service people who I have offended."
Following the approval, Governor Jared Polis sent the following statement:
“Colorado is home to a proud military history, numerous active duty military members and veterans. We are one of the top tourist destinations in the country because of our outdoor activities and unique way of life. Coloradans would be thrilled to have the Medal of Honor Museum located in the capital complex which is accessible, prestigious, and perfectly located near the heart of Denver’s thriving art and cultural scene. I’m glad the RTD board heard our bipartisan calls to celebrate our nation’s heroes and made the right choice for our state.”
The suggested site for the museum is property owned by the state of Colorado at Lincoln Street and Colfax Avenue.
The museum hoped to use land across Lincoln, which is owned by a family trust and leased by RTD through 2075, for a “grand, park-like” entrance.
The RTD land was once part of a redesign plan for Civic Center Station, but when RTD determined it wasn't needed, the property was set aside for potential development. Per RTD, the land has also previously been considered for art installations, a hotel development or food trucks.
The National Medal of Honor Museum offered to pay $1 a year to sublease the lot for the entrance park, but the City and County of Denver subsequently offered to pay the full cost. Under proposal considered by the board, Denver would sublease the property for the $123,000 RTD pays annually to lease the land, if city council approved the option.
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