Tag Archives: land swap

Barnes-Gelt: The hinky history of Denver’s land swap

By Susan Barnes-Gelt, The Denver Post May 9, 2014

Early this month, following more than a year of political shenanigans, civic and media consternation, lawsuits and failed appeals, Denver District Court Judge Herbert Stern affirmed the legality of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s decision to transfer 11 acres of open space in southeast Denver to Denver Public Schools for a new elementary school.
In exchange for the acreage and $710,000, the city got an obsolete DPS building in the Golden Triangle that will house a domestic violence center for women.
No one disputes the value of a new elementary school or a domestic violence center. At issue is how the city administration managed the deal. To recap:
In late 2012, Lauri Dannemiller, manager of Parks and Recreation, asked her 18-member advisory board to approve the swap and de-designate 9 acres of Hentzell Park as open space and the adjacent 2½ acres as a parking lot. The board opposed the measure, 11-6. The board, charged with oversight and stewardship of Denver’s treasured parks and open space, was chagrined when Dannemiller overruled the majority opinion.
Read the entire article in the Denver Post Here


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


Colorado Court of Appeals Orders Expedited Briefing

Dear Friends,

The Colorado Court of Appeals ordered expedited briefing in the case of Friends of Denver Parks v. City of Denver and DPS.

The appeal raises the issue of whether Hampden Heights North Park could be traded to DPS without a vote of the people as required by Charter section 2.4.5.

We expect a decision by the end of the year.  A copy of the Court’s Order is attached.

John Case

Attachment Order For Expedited Briefing