The group of opponents took over public comment at the Lakewood City Council meeting Monday night.
The proposed development would be on the park’s east boundary at 777 S. Yarrow St.
Many who have lived in this neighborhood for a while want to prevent the development from happening. The proposed building would have 412 units and 542 parking spaces.
Not only is increased traffic on narrow neighborhood roads a concern, but many are saying the removal of 69 mature trees and the danger to birds in the nearby ecosystem are big issues.
Opponents believe removing trees would further contribute to climate change, and it goes against the city’s own sustainability plan.
Proponents believe more housing is needed, and the current building on the property is already an issue.
Ahead of public comment, Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul read a letter from the developer proposing a two-month pause on any future site submittals.
“This is an important step because of the concerns that have been expressed over the past few weeks about our project. We want to be a good neighbor and understand that while a neighborhood meeting was not required as part of our process, we should have worked to have a community discussion because of the importance of the neighboring park,” Paul read.
Residents fight back against development
Those who opposed the build spoke out at the meeting.
“Belmar Park is an escape from the city life in the city. It is a natural, peaceful reprieve and a safe haven for humans and wildlife alike. It is the first place I take visitors to spotlight my city, and people are simply awestruck. No other place exists. Like it’s so close to roadways and shops and you’d never know it,” said one speaker.
Another speaker agreed that the development would have an impact on the local habitat.
“We know it’s zoned appropriately, but the issue is wildlife, birds, and the ecosystem in the park. It’s a natural habitat. It’s destructive to all to develop this kind of project,” said another person. “I believe that the city officials do have an obligation and a duty to protect our habitat areas, our parks. There needs to be a buffer, and the surrounding developments need to coexist.”
Those in favor agree more housing is needed
One person spoke in favor of the development.
“There seems to be a large generational divide on this issue. All the people who have spoken against issues thus far are significantly older in age and have owned their own homes for many years. So, you may not be aware of how accused the housing prices in the Denver metro area, of which Lakewood is a part of,” Jacob said. “At the end of the day, there’s simply not enough housing supply of homes to make housing affordable for younger generations, and the only way out of a housing crisis is to build more housing. Also, I find many of the prior comments to be disingenuous, as the development does not occur within Belmar Park. Instead, this development is set to demolish outdated vacant office buildings and replace those with apartments. These [proposed units] are not located within Belmar Park. These are the ugly office buildings located next to Belmar Park. A commenter mentioned that these would be an eyesore. These vacant offices are already an eyesore.”
Public comment lasted for nearly two hours; it did not wrap up until around 11:30 p.m.
In the letter from the developer, they said have contacted city staff to schedule discussions to reach out to concerned residents. A decision has not been made by the city council at this point.
On Tuesday morning, FOX31 noticed graffiti on the property containing profanity, and unhoused community members sleeping in the area.