Tag Archives: Debra Johnson

Joan Biggs, born in 1926, in Hampden Heights North Park where she rode horses 75 years ago

Dear Friends,

Joan Biggs

Joan Biggs, born in 1926, standing in Hampden Heights
North Park in southeast Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2014.

The photo attached shows Joan Biggs, born in 1926, standing in Hampden Heights North Park in southeast Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2014. Joan rode horses in the park from 1938-1944 as a member of the Hottentot Riding Club. In the photograph behind Joan, you can see construction workers pouring concrete to erect a new school in the park. On July 10, 2013 Denver city officials traded 11 acres of parkland to Denver Public Schools (DPS) as a building site.

Girls From Hottentot Riding Club

Teen-aged girls, members of the Hottentot Riding Club, pose on horseback near Denver, Colorado.
Taken between 1950-1960 by Lloyd Rule
Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library.

In exchange, city officials received title to a building at 1330 Fox St. The city Charter prohibits sale of any part of a park unless approved by the voters of Denver in an election. Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock and Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson refused to allow citizens of Denver to vote on this issue. Friends of Denver Parks, a local nonprofit, filed a lawsuit to prevent destruction of the park. Although Denver’s zoning code of 2010 designates this land as an official city park, to be preserved and protected by the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, city officials insist that it is not a park. A jury trial in Denver District Court is scheduled for May 19.  In the meantime, DPS is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on construction that may have to be torn out if the jury decides for the plaintiffs.

Also attached are the affidavits of Joan Biggs and former Denver City Council woman Susan Barnes-Gelt.  The affidavits show that Hampden Heights North Park has been used and recognized as a park since the city acquired the land in 1936. You decide who is right.

Affidavit of Joan Biggs

Affidavit of Susan Barns-Gelt

John Case BENSON & CASE, LLP

The Denver Green Party decries Hentzell Park land swap transaction

Contact: Andrea Merida, Denver Greens co-chair info@denvergreenparty.org

Denver, CO – The following position statement was unanimously approved by the voting members of the Denver Greens on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

The Denver Greens are alarmed by the precedent presented by the situation regarding a land swap of the open space commonly referred to as Hentzell Park. This open space was named by the City of Denver in 1981 in honor of former Denver city councilman Paul A. Hentzell, and since then, taxpayer resources have been expended for its upkeep, including the installation of signage and maintenance of pathways, just like any other officially-designated Denver park. We are hopeful that the Denver District Court takes up the review of the previous denial of preliminary injunction against the construction currently underway. That court date is scheduled for May 19, 2014.

The Hentzell Park area has a particular historical and environmental significance to the Denver area. It was once a part of the Cherokee Trail that led to the gold rush fields of California and was the site of gold discoveries along Clear Creek, near present-day Denver. It is currently the home of many species of wildlife, including mule deer and red fox, golden eagles and Great Blue herons and many grassland plants native to the Front Range.

As stated within the 10 Key Values of the Green Party of the United States, “We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet.” Therefore, the Denver Greens recognize the immense value of preservation of publicly-used lands like Hentzell Park.

The Denver city charter, Section 2.4.5 – Sale and Leasing of Parks, states in part that, “Without the approval of a majority of those registered electors voting in an election held by the City and County of Denver, no park or portion of any park belonging to the City as of December 31, 1955, shall be sold or leased at any time.”

The Denver Greens recognize that an untenable situation has arisen because the land has been maintained and treated as an official park, even though a formal vote was never taken to recognize it as such. Because of this failure of our city government to properly steward the expenditure of tax dollars via the upkeep of publicly-used land without proper park designation, an unfortunate loophole has been created. This governmental can has been kicked down the road repeatedly, while the land has been targeted for various initiatives, including a water park and as a portion of Kennedy Golf Course.

It is our opinion, however, that this loophole does not excuse the City’s responsibility to cement the public trust by bringing forth the disposition of this land to a vote by the people. We do not support this land swap, and we believe that the will of the people through proper democratic action has been subverted in this transaction.

Our Tenth Key Value, “Future Focus and Sustainability,” states that “(w)e must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.” It is clear that many mayoral administrations and city councils have failed to designate the Hentzell Park area as an official park by ordinance. Additionally, there are an additional 60 different public use areas not protected via ordinance, which creates more opportunity for land speculation and possibly even privatization.

The Denver Greens call upon both the Mayor of Denver and the Denver City Council to exercise their fiduciary responsibility as stewards of the public purse and as mandated by the voters of Denver county and immediately fix the designation of the 60 different public areas as official parks via ordinance before the end of the council’s 2014 legislative session.

Resolution Passed By Denver County Republican Executive Council

On February 4, 2014 a resolution for the right of Denver Citizens to determine the use of Denver Parks by a vote of the people was passed unanimously by the Denver County Republican executive Council

 RESOLUTION FOR THE RIGHT OF DENVER CITIZENS TO DETERMINE THE USE OF DENVER PARKS BY A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE
WHEREAS, Denver is known for its abundant and beautiful park system and Denver citizens are justifiably proud of Mayor Speer’s legacy of preservation of land for park space for the enjoyment and leisure of the citizens of Denver, and
WHEREAS, Denver citizens have invested in homes and businesses adjacent to parks with an understanding of the contribution of such parks to their property value, and
WHEREAS, Denver City Charter, Section 2.4.5 requires a vote of the people before parkland can be sold, transferred, or otherwise converted to non-park use, and
WHEREAS, Denver currently has over twenty parks that are only partially protected from future sale or development and over forty parks that are not formally designated by ordinance as parks and therefore not protected at all from future sale or development, these differences in designation status not being commonly known by the citizens, and
WHEREAS The Mayor of Denver and the Denver City Council have pronounced that conversion of these unprotected parks is not subject to a vote of the people as defined in City Charter Section 2.4.5 and,
WHEREAS, the current Administration “de-designated” Hampden Heights North Park as a natural area and park and traded part of the park to Denver Public Schools, an entity immune to zoning rules, in exchange for a building at 1330 Fox Street, and
Whereas this “swap” constitutes a new precedent that endangers all Denver park lands, natural areas and open space, reduces the property values of citizens and businesses who have invested near parks, and denies citizens their right to vote or to petition for a vote,
NOW THEREFORE THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE DENVER REPUBLICAN PARTY DOES HEREBY RESOLVE:
The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Denver decries the actions of the Denver Mayor, City Council and members of the Denver School Board in selling, trading, and developing city park land which belongs to the people of Denver and is owned by the city in trust for its citizens, and
The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Denver resolves that any City action to sell, trade, or develop any city land currently used or maintained as a city park must be approved by vote of the people, as required by City Charter Section 2.4.5, regardless of whether such land is formally designated as a City park, and
The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Denver calls on the Mayor, City Council and Denver School Board to reverse their recent action and return Hampden Heights North Park to protected park status.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF DENVER

The pdf document can be found here.