Denver nonprofit Friends of Denver Parks continues its court fight for park land

From the  April 1, 2015

By: Caryl Buckstein

Denver Non-Profit Business Examiner

Original article is found here

A 2014 photo of contested park land shows Cherry Creek dam on the horizon in 2014. Denver Public Schools has since neared completion of an elementary school on the land. It recently announced the name of the school as Joe Shoemaker School. Friends of Denver Parks

The nonprofit Friends of Denver Parks filed a reply brief with the Colorado Court of Appeals this week, supporters announced on the organization’s web site on Tuesday, March 31. “The issue before the court is bigger than one park,” they wrote.

The organization asks the appellate court to declare that Hampden Heights North Park land is city park land, which cannot be sold to Denver Public Schools without the approval of Denver voters. The transfer of park land without a vote violates Denver Charter Section 2.4.5, the group alleges.

DPS began construction March 3, 2014 on the new elementary school. It recently announced the name as Joe Shoemaker School. The nonprofit alleges the school is located on floodplain declared unsafe by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2014.

“At stake is the right of Denver citizens to participate in their city government as the Charter requires,” nonprofit supporters said. They are requesting a jury trial to judge the merits of their claims.

Friends of Denver Parks contends Mayor Michael Hancock took 10.77 acres, the majority of Hampden Heights North Park. Nonprofit supporters held petition drives to take the issue to vote, but were turned away each time by City Clerk Debra Johnson. The park land was exchanged for office property owned by DPS.

Shoemaker School is one of 12 new charter schools and two district-run schools DPS will open in 2015. Another school, Rocky Mountain Prep, will open in southeast Denver. Rocky Mountain Prep had initially planned to open its school in the new building, the Chalkbeat Colorado news site reported last June. Shoemaker will have an expeditionary learning focus and will be district-run.

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