On March 30, 2015, Friends of Denver Parks filed its Reply Brief in the Colorado Court of Appeals. Friends is asking the appellate Court to declare that Hampden Heights North Park is city park land, which cannot be sold to DPS without a vote of the people that is required by Charter Section 2.4.5. The issue before the court is bigger than one park. At stake is the right of Denver citizens to participate in their city government, as the Charter requires, and whether the court will permit a public trial in which Denver citizens can present their case to a jury. Here is a quote from the conclusion of the Reply Brief:
“Will the Court of Appeals enforce the peoples’ right of constitutional self-governance embodied in Charter § 2.4.5? Mayor Hancock took 10.77 acres from a park that, by Charter, belonged to the people of Denver. City officials denied citizens their right to vote on the taking. The Denver District Court entered a summary judgment that prevented citizens from presenting evidence to a neutral factfinder in a public trial. DPS used the land to build an elementary school in a flood plain below a dam that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared unsafe in 2014. Appellants respectfully submit that placing 800 school children in the path of a future flood – without the voter approval the Charter requires – so the Mayor can claim the political benefits associated with opening a domestic violence center is the opposite of constitutional self-government.”
To read the entire brief, click here: Other filed documents can be found here. The full report from the U.S Army Corp of Engineers can be found here
Posted in Hentzell Park Update
Tagged Army Corp of Engineers, Charter Section, Cherry Creek Dam, Colorado Court of Appeals, court of appeals, Denver citizens, Denver District Court, Denver Public Schools, Flood Plain, Friends of Denver Parks, Friends of Denver Parks appeal, Mayor Hancock
By Alan Prendergast, Westword May 12, 2014
When does a park become a park? Is it when people start using it for recreation and picnics? When the area starts showing up on maps labeled as a park? When the Mayor of Denver describes it as “dedicated park land,” while assuring nearby homeowners it won’t be developed? Or is it when the city starts to maintain it, build trails on it and post signs about observing park rules?
None of the above, apparently. Not according to Denver District Court Judge Herbert Stern III — who, practically on the eve of trial, dismissed the case a grass-roots parks group had brought challenging the city’s decision to transfer eleven acres of open space in the Cherry Creek corridor in exchange for an office building downtown.
Mayor Michael Hancock’s plan to hand over the property adjacent to Paul A. Hentzell Park to the Denver Public Schools for a new school, in exchange for a DPS administration building that’s now being converted to a one-stop services center for domestic violence victims, has triggered a slew of questions about how the city officially designates — and protects — its parks. Although the property was officially declared a “natural area” just a few years ago, Hancock insisted that it was “blighted;” Denver Parks and Recreation manager Lauri Dannemiller withdrew the natural area designation, and the Denver City Council approved the deal last spring.
Read the complete article here
Attached are copies of the Petition for Writ of Certiorari with Appendices 1-6 that we filed today in the Colorado Supreme Court. We are asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals (which affirmed Judge Stern’s denial of our motion for preliminary injunction). It is uncertain when we can expect a decision from the Supreme Court.
Our trial date in Denver District Court is May 19, 2014.
Today we took the deposition of Sandy Dennehy, the oldest daughter of Gerry Phipps, first owner of the Denver Broncos. Sandy testified that as a child and as a young woman, she and numerous friends rode horses along Cherry Creek and picnicked in Hampden Heights North Park north of the Sullivan Dam. This occurred during the eighteen year period from 1947 until the JFK golf course was built in 1965. The parkland was always open, used by the public for horseback riding, bicycling, walking, picnicking, and recreation.
Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and continued support of Friends of Denver Parks.
BENSON & CASE, LLP