1. “Denver has an adequate amount of parkland.”
A judgment of adequacy depends on the standard that is used to measure adequacy. When evaluated against reasonable standards, Denver does not have an adequate amount of urban parkland. When the amount of urban parkland in Denver, 6,286 acres, is compared with the amount in a city with a comparable population and level of density such as Portland, Oregon, Denver lags far behind. Denver has 10 acres of parkland per 1,000 people compared to Portland’s 25 acres per 1,000 people. Aurora, CO has 30 acres of parkland per 1,000 people.
2. “The loss of parkland is a reasonable bargain in light of the designation of other land managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation.(DPR).”
Giving away parkland is absolutely unprecedented in our system, and it is not an action that likely would be approved by a majority of the voters of the City and County of Denver.
A review, under an open records request to the DPR, of records pertaining to the land that has been described by the Manager of DPR as new land to be turned into parkland (Heron Pond, Stapleton, and ) in “trade” for the land that is to be lost at Park, shows that only 4.4 acres at Heron Pond, land best described as an industrial waste land, will be newly added to the park system, as a result of the Park land swap—and that area is already owned by the City. The other land to which she has publicly referred as mitigation for Park is land that has long been in the works for conversion to parkland.
3. “The land is not worthy of designation; it is “blighted”.
According to the DPR’s own Management Plan for the area, a plan that is only six years old: “ Park contains remnants of native prairie vegetation that appear to be among the best to survive in Denver. Wildlife habitat is present for birds, fish, small mammals, and other small animals.” Indeed, an ecologist with expertise in prairies consulted by Advocates indicated if this land were in some Midwestern states, where prairie is especially rare, it would be protected by a state government, and it would be a source of local and state pride.
4. “The social need for a school and a domestic violence center trumps the need for parkland.”
A serious commitment to providing for the educational and social needs of the citizens of Denver would never be expressed in a convoluted land deal such as the one under discussion. A serious commitment to meeting these needs would have resulted in plans that allowed for the unimpeded construction of a school or location of a building to house domestic violence programs. It is worth noting that the school to be built in Hentzell Park is located on a flood plain.
5. “There are no alternatives.”
Due in part to the absence of early public involvement in this issue, no alternatives to the land swap have been debated publicly. At least one council person proposed an alternative location for a domestic violence center that did not involve the loss of scarce parkland some time ago that was rejected by the administration.
ADVOCATES FOR DENVER’S PARKS 3/1/13