DENVER (KDVR) — Two measures dealing with conservation easements will be on Denver’s ballot this year.
The easements are open spaces, preserved and protected by the City of Denver – 155 acres of land at Park Hill Golf Course is under this buffer.
One measure is asking voters around the city to allow the public to decide if property can be developed on the open space.
The other wants to give voters the power to remove the protection of an easement on the property.
The course has been a staple in the community for decades. Supporters on both sides of the argument say the way Denver votes will determine its future.
“This has been an iconic part of our community and we’ve watched several other areas of our community become transitioned and gentrified,” said Pastor Del Phillips of House Worship Center.
Neighbors in the northeast Park Hill community said they do not want to see that happen again. They put initiative 302 on this year’s ballot as a direct response to ballot measure 301.
“What 301 says is, the development of designated parkland or lands held under a city-owned conservation easement which is the Park Hill golf course land, that residential or commercial development on those lands is prohibited unless approved by a citywide vote of the people,” said Penfield Tate, a supporter of measure 301.
Measure 302 supporters feel 301 would open the door for too many outsiders to weigh in on the future of their neighborhood.
“I would say to people who live in other communities – be careful. If something like this can pass that intrudes on the premises of people who live in this local footprint, what’s to say that someone can’t create the same type of ballot initiative that could bring harmful decisions to other communities as well?” Phillips said.
Measure 302 would change the definition of a conservation easement and require voters to approve getting rid of one. Measure 301 supporters believe removing that protection will open the door for overdevelopment.
“I think their argument is ridiculous. The gentrification that occurs is going to be when they try to build and develop on that site and further add to the congestion of traffic on Colorado Boulevard and Martin Luther King Boulevard and other streets. This development is not in the best interest of northeast Denver,” Tate said.
Some people living here want to see the land used for essential businesses.
“Whether you see attainable affordable housing, a grocery store or large park, surely you can understand why our neighborhood deserves the ability to decide what the future of what our community will look like,” said Caroll Watkins Ali, a supporter of 302.
While others want more recreation like walking trails and outdoor venues.
“We are vehemently opposed to development on that land. We think the conservation easement on that land is binding. We want the land to remain open space for recreational purposes,” Tate said.