Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Attorney forges on in battle to protect Denver parks

By Dave Felice
Exclusive to Denver Direct
In a broadcast interview, the attorney for Friends of Denver Parks says he’s moving forward with an appeal involving Hampden Heights North Park and preparing to launch a ballot initiative to protect other park lands.
Attorney John Case appears undaunted by the latest ruling from the Court of Appeals.  The Appeals Court upholds a Denver Court denial of an injunction to protect Hampden Heights North Park from development.  At the same time, Case says Friends of Denver Parks intends to undertake “a ballot initiative to confer official park status on the numerous parks in Denver that the city has neglected to designate by ordinance.”
According to Case, “this is an issue which affects dozens of parcels of land citywide.”  In the interview on KNUS 710, Case expresses concern that “because the city says there is no specific ordinance for certain parcels, that land is threatened.”
Case also told interviewers Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden that he’s not surprised by the difficulty of fighting this case against the city.  “(Assistant City Attorney) David Broadwell is a very good lawyer,” said Case. Bonniwell responded: “Yes, but for a bad purpose.”
In a written statement to supporters, Case said:  “I believe that the Court of Appeals was wrong in concluding that charter section 2.4.5 eliminated common law dedication of parks in Denver.  After considering the work involved in this pro bono effort, my four law partners at Benson & Case voted unanimously to authorize me to file a petition for ‘writ of certiorari’ in the Colorado Supreme Court.  They also authorized me to proceed to trial as scheduled in Denver District Court May 19, 2014.”
Case says he is still working pro bono.  He says Friends of Denver Parks continues to accept donations.  According to Case, expenses are covered, but the lawyers working on the matter are not getting paid.  He says there are also opportunities for volunteer work, and refers people who are interested to the web site www.FriendsOfDenverParks.org.
As an example of the peril facing undesignated park land, Case cites trails from Hampden Heights North Park connecting to other parks in southeast Denver.  Case says even though these trails have signs indicating they are park land, the city now says they are not actual parks by designation.
The court matter challenges the city's authority to transfer 11 acres of Hampden Height North Park, also known as Hentzell Park Natural Area, to the Denver school district. 


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