Category Archives: Hentzell Park Update

Our battle to preserve Hampden Heights North Park takes place in the Colorado Court of Appeals next Tuesday September 1, 2015

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Dear Friends of Denver Parks,

Oral argument in our battle to preserve Hampden Heights North Park takes place in the Colorado Court of Appeals next Tuesday September 1, 2015 between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The hearing is at 2 West 14th Ave. in Denver (Lincoln and E. 14th Ave.)

Many of you have asked why we keep fighting.  DPS has constructed an elementary school on the 11 acres that will open within days.

We are fighting because if we win, ultimately we can return the land to the ownership of the citizens of Denver.  After the school has outlived its useful life in 20-40 years, DPS and the City can restore the 11 acres to natural area park land as part of Paul A. Hentzell Park for the use of future generations.

Each side is allowed fifteen minutes to present its argument.  Our proceeding will last ½ hour.

There is another case on the 1:30 docket with us, we won’t know until 1:30 p.m. which case will be heard first.

For those of you who wish to attend in person, oral argument will take place in the beautiful new courtroom on the First Floor of the Court of Appeals.

It is helpful to be in the Courtroom by 1:25 p.m., so that your entrance does not distract the three appellate judges who will hear the arguments and decide our case.

The three judge panel will consist of Senior Judge Sandra I. Rothenberg, Judge Steve Bernard, and Judge Stephanie Dunn.

The First Floor Courtroom has excellent acoustics.  There are comfortable benches with close-up visibility for 60 observers.

There is meter parking on Lincoln northbound between 13th Ave and 14th Ave.  There is meter parking on Broadway southbound between 14th and 13th Ave.  There is a paid parking lot at 13th and Broadway. Please allow 15 minutes to get into the First Floor Courtroom after parking your car.

Usually, the Court of Appeals issues a written decision within 4 weeks of oral argument.

If you cannot attend in person, you can watch oral argument on-line by following the instructions below.

  1.  Go to this page at the appointed date and time (9/1 at 1:30 p.m.)
  2.   Click on the link that says “Court of Appeals First Floor.” The link won’t be active until the court is actually in session. These things start late sometimes, so people should keep trying if the link isn’t active right at 1:30.
  3. Watch the argument.

There is another case scheduled at the same time as ours, so the Friends case may not be argued until 2:00 p.m. or so.

Thanks to all of you who have supported Friends of Denver Parks.

John Case
EVANS CASE, LLPDPS Notice

Nonprofit recommends new consideration in Denver city council race

From The Examiner April 14, 2015

By Caryl Buckstein

Buckstein

Denver Non-Profit Business Examiner

Original article can be found here

Denver Public Schools clears land adjacent to Cherry Creek considered park land by nonprofit Friends of Denver Parks. The nonprofit recommends voters consider the courtesy voting issue in this municipal election. Friends of Denver Parks

 

Denver voters participating in Ballot Trace received emails Monday that their ballots had been printed. Some were emailed Tuesday that the ballots in the municipal election had reached their local post office. They will soon be asked to decide.

A local nonprofit, Friends of Denver Parks, recommends voters consider a new factor: a commitment to avoid courtesy voting.

Courtesy voting reportedly leads to “courtesy zoning” — where the Denver City Council approves site-specific zoning matters according to the wishes of that particular district’s councilperson.

The informal practice is unethical but not illegal in Denver city government, said the nonprofit’s website. “But under the Colorado Constitution, courtesy voting in the state legislature constitutes the crime of bribery,” it said.

The nonprofit alleges that courtesy voting was behind a secretive land swap between the city and Denver Public Schools that resulted in construction of an elementary school on park land in southeast Denver. The matter is currently before the Colorado Court of Appeals. The group had attempted to present petitions with nearly 8,000 signatures to bring the matter to a vote in 2013. City Clerk Debra Johnson refused to accept the petitions.

By April 14, many of the city council candidates had signed a pledge to avoid courtesy voting. “I envision a city council that is transparent to its citizens, works cooperatively to acquire and preserve open space, and is collegial but independent from the mayor,” the pledge says. Three had refused.

Of the candidates for the two at-large city council seats, one of the five refused to sign — Robin Kniech. The four who signed were incumbent Deborah “Debbie” Ortega, Jose Silva, Jeffery Washington and Kayvan Khalatbari.

Signing in district races were candidates in:

  • District One: Rafael Espinoza and Susan Shepherd.
  • District Two: Fran Coleman Kevin Flynn, Jeanne Labuda and Danny Lopez.
  • District Four: Kendra Black, Carolina Klein and Halisi Vinson.
  • District Six: Liz Adams and Paul Kashmann.
  • District Seven: Luchia Brown, Jolon Clark, Aaron Greco, Ian Harwick, Mickki Langston and Jake Viano.
  • District Nine: Michael “Borch” Borcherding, Albus Brooks and Ean Thomas Tafoya.
  • District 10: Chris Chiardi, Anna Jones, Travis Leiker, Wayne New and Chris Cornell Weder.
  • District 11: Sean Bradley, Shelli Brown, Tim Camarillo and Tea Schook.

Along with Kniech, refusing to sign were Anne McGihon, District Seven and Stacie Gilmore,

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

From the Examiner.com  April 1, 2015

By: Caryl Buckstein

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.