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PRESS RELEASE :DEM PARTY RESOLUTION-CONDEMNS PLAN TO EXPAND I70
Contact: Aaron Goldhamer Tel.: 303.534.0401
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Denver, CO October 18, 2017
On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, the Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Denver passed a resolution strongly condemning the present plan to expand Interstate 70 through Denver. The resolution condemned the social and environmental injustice posed by the project, as well as the irreparable harm it presents, and urged fulsome consideration of alternative options to expand I-76 and I-270 instead. The resolution passed overwhelmingly.
Meanwhile, on Monday, October 16, 2017, various citizen-plaintiffs offered a flurry of filings in two cases related to the project. In a federal case asserting the Colorado Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) and the Federal Highway Administration’s (“FHWA”) failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, a plaintiff group led by developer Kyle Zeppelin responded to CDOT and FHWA’s motion to dismiss their case, offering sworn statements of two sitting Denver City Council members to rebut a statement offered by City Engineer Lesley Thomas that Denver will proceed with its controversial “Platte to Park Hill” drainage project—which the plaintiffs assert is directly tied to the I-70 expansion—even if CDOT is enjoined from paying the $60 million it has committed to contributing to that project.
Also on Monday, in a separate case that went to trial in August and is awaiting decision by a state court judge, a plaintiff group led by former Colorado Attorney General J.D. MacFarlane provided the court with an update on the urgency of a decision and pressed for an immediate injunction concerning Denver’s proposal to reconstruct City Park Golf Course to serve as a flood-control area. Denver has announced its plan to proceed with cutting down 261 trees in the Golf Course by November 1st, 2017, regardless of whether Judge David Goldberg has issued a ruling by that time on the legality of using the Golf Course—which is designated parkland entitled to protection under the Denver Charter. The plaintiffs in the state case will appear in court on October 26, at 2:30 PM, in Denver District Court to plead their case.
Attorney Aaron Goldhamer, who is representing both groups of plaintiffs, stated “It is troubling that the City would have such disregard for the judicial process that they would march ahead with a challenged project without awaiting a determination of its legality.”
Recent reporting concerning Denver’s plan in the Golf Course is available at the following links:
Resolution adopted by vote of the Democratic Party of Denver Executive Committee October 17, 2017
WHEREAS the Democratic Party of Denver’s core values include social and environmental justice; and
WHEREAS the choice to cut I-70 through north Denver in the 1960’s has imposed a significant social and environmental injustice on predominantly low-income and Latino neighborhoods for decades, created adverse health outcomes, and represents outdated urban planning; and
WHEREAS the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (“CDOT”) current plan to expand I-70 through north Denver will create irreparable harm by worsening these social and environmental injustices, exposing Denver residents to Superfund soils, and greatly depleting resources for useful projects elsewhere; and
WHEREAS re-routing I-70 around north Denver via I-270 and I-76 avoids many of the harms inherent in the present plan (approximately twenty-five times fewer people live within 1000 feet of the re-route), presents positive social and financial opportunities for the entire north Metro Denver area, permits the reunification of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea with the city, but has never been seriously considered; and
WHEREAS the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation, which represents neighborhoods all over Denver, recently condemned the present I-70 expansion plan through north Denver; and
WHEREAS by Resolution on April18, 2017, the Democratic Party of Denver’s Executive Committee opposed the expensive and destructive P2PH drainage projects that are principally driven by the present I-70 expansion proposal; and
WHEREAS the Democratic Party of Denver will not remain silent in the face of a clear and present danger to our residents and our state coffers;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT:
The Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Denver is opposed to CDOT’s present plan to expand I-70 through north Denver; and
The Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Denver urges serious consideration of the I-270 and I-76 re-route; and
That the Chair of the Democratic Party of Denver shall send a copy of this resolution to the Governor, all Democratic candidates for Governor, CDOT’s Executive Director, Denver’s Mayor, Denver’s City Council, and Denver-area State legislators.
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SAVE THE 261 TREES AT THE GOLF COURSE
EMERGENCY! CPGC TREES MARKED FOR DESTRUCTION
CITY TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETING TONIGHT AND SATURDAY! COME
Oct 12, 2017 — Trees in City Park Golf Course from Colorado Blvd. to York St. are banded with yellow tape, marked for imminent death ( within the next few days)
You can help to stop this destruction. The city is holding public meeting tonight, Thursday, and Saturday morning to hear what YOU have to say about their plans to destroy historic City Park Golf Course and hundreds of trees. PLEASE SHOW UP. BE VOCAL. RALLY YOUR FRIENDS. DON”T BE SILENCED.
CLICK HERE FOR MEETING DETAILS:
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Historic Denver Feedback on Cultural Landscape Report for City Park Golf Course
1) The report generally provides a solid overview of the course and its development, and the photographs and maps are useful visual aids. While the document would have been more helpful at an earlier stage, it should still be useful in informing design decisions.
2) We concur with the proposed period of significance for the reasons documented in the CLR and because the proposal is reasonably consistent with the proposed period of significance for the remainder of City Park, which is currently undergoing a master planning process. We also concur that the course currently exhibits good integrity.
3) The underlying premise of the report seems to be that the Golf Course has changed overtime. That is clearly true, however, the core foundational elements of the Course have not changed substantially (topography, views, spatial relationships, circulation patterns). Additionally, the Course had taken on its current state, more or less, by the mid-1960s and so most of the changes to landscape style and vegetation should be considered contributing to the historic character as we now know it. Efforts should therefore be made to preserve, honor or reinforce relationships and attributes that date to the period of significance. This includes the foundational elements noted above, but also the key plantings and the planting patterns, that date to the period of significance.
4) There remains some incomplete thinking related to the trees and defining their significance. Emphasis has been placed on the age of trees alone- rather than on understanding which planting patterns have significance, even if they are less evident today. While certainly preserving the legacy/champion trees is critical, understanding the patterns during the period of significance could guide the designers in choices about where to re-establish those patterns, what kinds of trees to plant, etc.
5) Justification is made for moving the clubhouse based on previous conversations about moving it in the 1940s and 1990s, but preservation practice would say that simply because something was previously discussed or even designed, if it wasn’t built it’s not “historic,” so using those previous conversations as an argument to support the move doesn’t really work. There should be further discussion of how the move affects other contributing features, and whether those attributes can be preserved even if the club house moves.
6) The views are defined as significant both into and out of the course, so the idea that buildings need to be low, and not dominant, is very important not only to the views but also to the sense of vastness that is repeatedly noted as a significant characteristic.
Annie Robb Levinsky
Historic Denver, Inc
1420 Ogden St.
Denver, CO 80218
Are you a member? Join today at www.historicdenver.org.
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ANOTHER NAIL IN THE I 70/ PLATTE TO PARK HILL COFFIN?
Contact: Aaron Goldhamer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Zeppelin Plaintiffs Move to Enjoin I-70 Widening Project
September 18, 2017
On Friday, a group of Denver citizens—including developer Kyle Zeppelin—filed a motion in Federal court to enjoin the Colorado Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) from proceeding with its controversial plan to expand I-70 through Denver. If the motion is successful it could bring a halt to the highway project, which has been derided by critics as an expensive and backwards-thinking boondoggle that threatens the health of predominantly low-income and Latino neighborhoods in north Denver.
CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration’s (“FHWA”) alleged failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) is the basis for the sought injunction. Namely, the plaintiffs assert that CDOT and the FHWA are proceeding with the I-70 project without two areas of required study: (1) a failure to study the effect on human health of the project in light of the disturbance of toxic materials present in the Superfund site where the project is located, and (2) a failure to study the environmental and other impacts of the City of Denver and CDOT’s joint proposed “Platte to Park Hill” drainage project, which the plaintiffs allege is designed to protect the proposed subgrade lowering of I-70.
The EPA has determined that part of the I-70 construction area contains conditions that “present a threat to public health and environment[,]” and that “excavation of these metal contaminated soils pose the threat of additional releases of these hazardous substances to the environment.” Nevertheless, CDOT did not analyze how the disturbance or spread of these contaminants may actually impact human health and the environment before deciding to proceed with the I-70 project, the plaintiffs allege.
The Platte to Park Hill project is the City of Denver and CDOT’s joint massive $300M drainage project planned for north Denver. CDOT is paying up to $60M toward this project. “Under NEPA, CDOT and the FHWA were required to study the Platte to Park Hill project, because it is connected to the I-70 project. They did not do so, in violation of federal law,” said Aaron Goldhamer, an attorney at the law firm Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C., that is representing the plaintiffs.
Goldhamer also represented various Denver residents in a suit against the City of Denver that was tried to a state court judge in August. That case alleged that the portion of the Platte to Park Hill project planned for City Park Golf Course—which is designated parkland—was unlawful under the Denver Charter because the project constituted highway construction and drainage support, which runs afoul of the Denver Charter’s restriction of parkland to “park purposes.” That case still awaits determination.
Additional plaintiffs to the federal case include Brad Evans, Christine O’Connor, Kimberly Morse, Jacqueline Lansing, and Janet Feder. Melissa Hailey of Keating Wagner and Jay Tuchton of the Tutchton Law Office also represent these plaintiffs. “Melissa Hailey is really the brains behind this operation, and is pulling the laboring oar,” Goldhamer said of Hailey, a former WildEarth Guardians attorney.
The plaintiffs expect that their requested injunction will be determined no later than early 2018, before CDOT is scheduled to begin construction. CDOT and the FHWA will have an opportunity to respond to the plaintiffs’ motion, and an injunction hearing is possible. If the injunction is granted, it would bode well for a final determination that CDOT would have to reissue an Environmental Impact Study before proceeding with the I-70 project, as “likelihood of success on the merits” is an important factor in obtaining injunctive relief. Likewise, if the injunction is granted, CDOT may not be able to help pay for the Platte to Park Hill project. If that happens, Goldhamer thinks “the City might scrap their Platte to Park Hill project. After all, they did not have any plan for it in Denver’s 2014 Storm Drainage Master Plan, before CDOT apparently realized they needed to account for more drainage issues and talked Denver into helping them out.”
Goldhamer’s City Park Golf Course case uncovered a document that Denver had fought to keep secret: a 2014 Montclair Creek Drainage Feasibility Evaluation, which clarified the following in writing:
CDOT’s Project Manager, Keith Stefanik[,] has confirmed from his management team that CDOT cannot include any of the Montclair Creek open channel projects [now known as Platte to Park Hill] in their design/build contract for the I-70 PCL project. To amend their Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to include an open channel option is such a large change in scope that they would have to start their NEPA EIS process essentially over again. It has taken them two years to get to the point of where they are ready to submit their supplemental package, and they are unwilling to jeopardize their progress on the EIS for the I-70 PCL.
NEPA requirements will activate if we use federal funding. If any of the Montclair Creek projects have to undergo a NEPA process, we understand from CDOT’s NEPA Project Manager, Kirk Webb, that this process would take a minimum of 2 to 3 years. Based on the I-70 PCL schedule, these projects are not a viable option for the City and County of Denver to pursue. It is understood if we are able to secure non-Federal funding for these project [sic], then we would not have to undergo a NEPA process.
In addition to the City Park Golf Course case, additional litigation concerning I-70—both in the District of Columbia and in Colorado Federal court—remains pending. A case filed in Colorado by the Sierra Club and neighborhood groups has been consolidated with the Zeppelin plaintiffs’ matter for purposes of case management.
The Zeppelin plaintiffs’ motion for the injunction is attached. Additional exhibits and pleadings in the case are available from the Federal District Court for the District of Colorado or upon request to the contact listed above.
Aaron D. Goldhamer | Attorney at Law
Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C.
1290 Broadway, Suite 600
Denver, CO 80203
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Clayton Early Learning – Park Hill Golf Course Community Forum
A Message From Brad Evans, Ditch The Ditch
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NO VERDICT YET/ CITY TO “DONATE” PARK LAND TO DEVELOPER?
Sep 7, 2017
The city proposes to give a piece of publicly owned property that was supposed to be a green, public park…. to a private
developer. Such a deal for whom?
This property is located on the 2800 block of Fairfax.
Denver Parks & Recreation told Park Hill residents that this property would be made into a public park.
Now the city ( Denver Parks and Recreation) proposes to hand it over to a private developer in the form of a “LAND SWAP”.
City Councilman Chris Herndon appears to be facilitating this swap.
Instead of a public park, residents would get a cement plaza embedded in a big mixed use development across the street from the land in question……. in exchange for this city owned property.
This is the same big private development that Councilman Chris Herndon was asked to keep secret from his constituents, by the developer, until the land acquisition was complete. And Councilman Herndon did just that. Now, is he in favor of donating our precious park land to the same developer AT A LOSS TO THE CITY?
The private developer would maintain the “park” and provide “security”. We understand that the developer would also have first right on utilization of the “park”.
Does this sound like a public park to you? Would all neighbors be welcome in this upscale development with restaurants and retail? Could you have a barbeque or a family reunion in this “park”?
DOES THIS SOUND FISHY TO YOU?
ACTION: Greater Park Hill Community will discuss this proposal at their meeting tonight:
Thursday, September 7
Greater Park Hill Community Center,
2823 Fairfax St. 880207
Park Hill Community neighbors and the City of Denver Dept of Parks and Recreation ( Scott Gilmore) will be giving presentations.
We need your voice.
The $64 question. Will Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon attend?
Sunday, September 10
11:00 – 5PM
FOREST AVE. PARKWAY
MORE DETAILS: http://www.parkhillhometour.org/street-fair/
Denver Parks seem to be under attack from our own Department of Parks and Recreation, Denver City Council and the Mayor.
The people literally have no voice or vote in the destiny of our parks.
The Director of Denver Parks and Recreation, Happy Haynes, a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of Mayor Michael Hancock ,ALONE, now decides what is a park use.
Huge Music Festivals, drainage projects, incinerators, a Starbucks or a MacDonalds … Happy can rule that they are all park uses.
You don’t get to vote on it and neither does your City Council Representative. Denver’s 2010 Zoning Law overhaul gave the Mayor complete control over the destiny of Denver’s parks.
Were you snoozing when that law passed?
We need to be alert and let our voices be heard… loud and clear.
Citizens of Denver want to have a voice in their own destiny and have a say in what happens to our public lands before they aren’t public anymore.
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Four Days In Court, A Recollection
During the four day J. D. MacFarlane vs. City & County of Denver trial, the City continued to dig itself deeper and deeper into a hole. What came through loud and clear —and which will persist regardless of the final opinion in the case — is that the City looked very foolish for pushing forward with a $45 Million “golf course redesign project” on the most urban and most treasured golf course in Denver in order to support its obligations to CDOT.
Here is a concise timeline of how this project evolved for NEW Ditch the Ditch members or others needing a primer. Ratepayers need to see how this project has been waved in front of us over past two years.
- Summer 2015: In presenting the IGA between Denver and CDOT to Council, the project was titled the “CDOT/CCD I-70 PCL COMBINED DRAINAGE SYSTEM Proposed 100-Year Protection Montclair and Park Hill Basins.” Attachment A to IGA.
- Late 2015 – April 2016: The North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative (the Mayor’s umbrella for six projects related to the Corridor of Opportunity) began to market this as FLOOD PROTECTION FOR THE PARK HILL AND MONTCLAIR BASINS. They named it the Platte to Park Hill project. (When we pointed out this was beyond the scope of the NDCC, the NDCC logo was dropped and Public Works logo inserted.)
- April 6 , 2017: The City held “joint” press conference with Parks and Public Works re INTEGRATING STORM WATER PROTECTION INTO CITY PARK GOLF COURSE. They had presented a Hobbesian choice of “55 homes in Cole” vs. City Park Golf Course to make it look as though it was an equity issue. Turns out there were several industrial sites near 40th & York also on list of options.
- June 13-14, 2016: Presented as a CITYWIDE DRAINAGE FIX at the Council meeting that approved the massive hike in Wastewater Fees. (Note Aaron Goldhamer filed J. D. MacFarlane’s lawsuit June 13, 2016.)
- Summer 2016: Complete change of course (pun intended) and project became known as GOLF COURSE REDESIGN PROJECT. (Wonder how much did the City pay GBSM to reframe this?). DPR Director Happy Haynes seen frequently at redesign meetings to show Parks buy in.
- Aug. 14, 2017: Another flip-flop. The $45M Golf Course Contract was presented to City Council as a FLOOD PROTECTION PROJECT again. Public Works is the City agency signing the Golf Course Contract, and the City framed it as a vote on a flood protection project not a golf course project. Remember by using the enterprise fund the City avoided Tabor and didn’t need to send this huge Capital Construction Project to the voters, but the fund needs to be run like a business and what it spends $ on needs to be related to the city’s sanitary sewer and storm drainage system. Tricky, no? Thanks to Council Members Ortega, Espinoza and Kashmann for opposing the contract, and speaking out about this once again. Councilman Kashmann even read parts of the IGA so that his fellow Council members could see the I70 connection!!
“The J.D. MacFarlane vs. City & County of Denver (City Park Golf Course) trial got off to a great start yesterday with strong opening remarks by our lead counsel Aaron Goldhamer. Jon Murray’s covered those Opening Statements here.
A big THANK YOU to all of you who came down bright and early, and some of you who stayed for the entire day!!! Aaron opened by saying: “This case is about what the Denver charter gives the people — and about what the city is trying to take away from the people in violation of the charter.”
Four of the eight plaintiffs led off the Plaintiffs’ testimony, and an arborist who talked about the potential harm to City Park Golf Course’s soil and trees to trees not only because 262 trees will be destroyed in pursuit of this project, and not only because the City plans only to replace 42% of that canopy on the course, but about the potential unknown damage of cut and fill throughout the entire course. (The City will use its Tree Canopy program to “make up” the rest of the loss elsewhere.)
Two representatives of the City were asked at length about the evolution of this decision and its connection to I70, and it was clearly established that this project arose not out of Parks & Recreation Planning, but Public Works’ needs associated with the Platte to Park Hill project, which as readers well know, was designed in conjunction with the Intergovernmental Agreement with CDOT.
Plaintiffs’ Attorney Tony Vaida then brought Dennis Royer to the stand to give his opinion on whether the Stormwater Project at CPGC was found in the City’s Storm Drainage Master Plan.. Mr. Royer worked for the City for years, including as Deputy Manager of Public Works for Operations, the department that signed off on the 2005 Stormwater Master Plan. He testified that the Project is not in accordance with the 2014 Stormwater Master Plan and not in accordance with the process for amending Stormwater Master Plans, so in his opinion that the project could not be for the purpose of solving a CPGC stormwater problem or even a Montclair Basis stormwater problem.
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Aaron Goldhamer and Tony Vaida continued to present the Plaintiffs’ case Tuesday in Judge David Goldberg’s Courtroom. Tuesday’s first witness — put on the stand as part of the Plaintiffs’ case — was Director of Parks & Recreation Happy Haynes, and she was asked numerous tough questions about her knowledge of parks’ policies such as the 2001 City Park Master Plan which recommends Preservation for all of City Park, including the City Park Golf Course. This 2001 City Park Master Plan covers ALL of City Park, including the Golf Course.
Aaron Goldhamer spent considerable time asking Ms. Haynes about the purpose of the proposed Stormwater Project, about Park Purpose in general, about negative impacts of the project, and whether she knew of any Denver park that had been closed in its entirety for a considerable length of time to install a regional storm water detention facility. He also pressed her as to why she did not allow the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board hold a vote on the Platte to Park Hill project.
Ms. Haynes agreed that helping CDOT with its highway construction support is not a park purpose. Additionally, Ms. Haynes opined about replacing the “lost” trees with the City’s tree canopy program which can replace “lost” trees (did you know all the trees chopped down in one fell swoop will be considered a “loss”?) with new trees at parks around the ‘hood. She believes replacing only 42% of the canopy at the course itself is a “robust” replanting of trees.
Councilwoman Ortega testified briefly about the evolution of this drainage project to $298Million, that the rate increase was an unusual size, her concerns with passing an IGA without dealing with protection of Globeville at the same time, and the fact that the IGA directly ties I70 together with the Platte to Park Hill Project. Bruce Uhernik, an engineer with public works testified about the 2014 Storm Drainage Master Plan, admitting that Platte to Park Hill was not included in that last-approved storm drainage plan. He also seemed to disagree with certain policies in the SDMP pointed out by Aaron Goldhamer, indicating these policies in that plan work in some conditions but not for the Montclair and Park Hill Basins. The gist of his testimony was that the City wanted to put detention in CPGC because this was a “natural” location of this digitalized buried creek that was just found, although the City would then turn all the stormwater flow AWAY from this creed to flow directly west at 39th because that is where the existing pipes are located and can be tripled in capacity.
Chris Proud, who was Happy Haynes’ right-hand man providing her with the information about the project as it progressed, also testified at length about his emails to the “team.” Aaron Goldhamer questioned him about these emails, in which he expressed numerous concerns with the project. Mr. Proud tried to downplay these quite serious concerns expressed by him in emails, saying at trial that “at the time” the City really didn’t have an understanding about what the impacts of taking City Park Golf Course might be, and he wanted the team to take these into consideration.
Adrian Brown, a professional engineer with decades of experience, (many of you are familiar with his description of the risk involved in the Globeville Landing Outfall portion of this drainage project) took the stand as an expert witness, and testified that the proposed stormwater project at City Park Golf Course did not serve any storm related park improvement purpose in the City Park Golf Course and that there was no need for this additional engineered detention at CPGC but for the lowering of I70 pursuant to its expansion plans.
At that point the City Attorney asked the Court to issue a “Directed Verdict” in favor of the City. In other words, the City was arguing that based on what had been presented, there was not enough for the trial to move forward, and the trial should be ended. The Judge laid out the law about issuing Directed Verdicts, and then issued a finding that Plaintiffs had presented enough evidence to establish a “prima facie” case and that the trial would continue.
On Day 3, the City began to present its case. The City began with Public Works project manager Bruce Uhernik who presented the story of flooding in the Montclair/Park Hill basins, that Montclair is the “worst” basin in the City, a video of a car floating down the street, tons of maps. The Judge indicated he was interested in hearing about Parks in which Public Works had taken a role in projects, and spent a great deal of time asking Bruce about drainage projects throughout the City.
Next up was Scott Rethlake, the Director of Golf, who talked about the history of the golf course, the Request for Proposal, trees, etc. Aaron Goldhamer asked whether the Golf Enterprise Fund is paying for this project, as Scott had just related that the Golf Enterprise Fund was “self-sufficient.” Rethlake said that in this case, he believe the Wastewater Enterprise Fund dollars could be used to cover all things that needed to be replaced to take care of the drainage. (This is tricky territory. On the one hand the City is calling it the project an “improvement” to the Golf Course (improvements should be covered by the Golf Enterprise Fund ) and the next minute they are calling it a stormwater project (Wastewater Enterprise Funds’ expenditures should not include these costly upgrades to an entire golf course).
Parks Director Happy Haynes was next, and she was on the stand for perhaps three hours so this is difficult to summarize. (I welcome more astute soundbites…) Her qualifications alone took a half hour, as Ms. Haynes has been involved in politics and non-profits for decades, although Mayor Hancock just installed her as Manager of Parks & Rec in the fall of 2015, at precisely the time the Platte to Park Hill project began to be marketed to the neighborhoods. Some of the things she covered: “green” infrastructure, the need to increase amount of natural open space, what park purpose means to her, her list of storm water “detention” in parks throughout the city, and her personal history with City Park Golf Course. (Ms. Haynes grew up a block away from the Golf Course, admitted to cutting through it on the way to school, took up golf & said she considers it “her course.” I can only imagine how painful it must be for her to advocate for this project.)
She described AT LENGTH her involvement in the process of designing the new course (AFTER decision to use CPGC and AFTER lawsuit filed), so beginning in summer 2016. She described her involvement sitting in on the technical Public Works meetings as the Request for Proposal was put together, again in 2016. She skillfully avoided saying exactly how involved she was on the “Executive Oversight Team” that made the actual decision to place detention at CPGC.
Ms. Haynes stated that closing parks for extended periods of time was something that Parks does regularly, and mentioned numerous parks that have been either created or improved as part of an effort along the South Platte called River Vision (Urban Drainage/Greenway Foundation/Denver) which is addressing major floodplain issues and greatly adding to parks viability along the edges of the River. This is a great project involving South Platte restoration work and we can thank Greenway Foundation for spearheading. It encompasses the work done at Confluence Park as well as at the Weir Gulch, Grant-Frontier, Pasquinell’s Landing etc., all wonderful River projects undertaken with years of planning for the South Platte. The exact parallels to closing CPGC not drawn.
Happy went on to talk about parks without trees such as Civic Center Pavilion and Skateboard Park, and that we don’t need trees to have “a park.” Several times she referred to a non-dated, non-labelled list showing has 500 acres of Stormwater Detention Facilities in Parks, as if this in and of itself provided grounds for adding detention to CPGC. (I pointed out on Friday that out of the 500 acres listed, over 350 acres was comprised of lakes such as the 170 acre Sloan’s Lake, Berkeley Lake, Huston Lake etc.) The goal seemed to be to lump all lakes and parks and gulches and detention ponds that hold or carry water into this one list as support of blanket discretion on the part of Happy Haynes to close ANY park for ANY project, for any stated reason, for ANY length of time. It was an extensive well-rehearsed briefing to convince the Court that what the City proposes for CPGC is business as usual.
Time to recount what must have been the most embarrassing moment for the City in the four day trial. I am going to skip ahead to the afternoon testimony because it really was a complete shock. Denver called Adrian Benepe of the Trust for the Public Lands (TPL) as an expert yesterday to testify on the City Park Golf Course proposal.
I want readers to hold on to their hats. I want to take great pains to acknowledge up front that many of us hold the Trust for the Public Lands (TPL) in high regard for its work to “keep public lands in public hands.” TPL’s site says “Our public lands should be saved, not sold.”
Adrian Benepe — who served for years as New York City parks commissioner — is a senior VP and Director of city park development for TPL. It quickly became clear in his testimony that he knew very little about the project itself, and had done no homework to prepare to testify as an expert except talk to various Denver officials and staffers whom he could not name. I say “could not name” because he said he couldn’t recall any names. Note that Denver Parks & Recreation Director Happy Haynes chairs the Colorado Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land.
Mr. Benepe had not read the RFP (Request for Proposal) issued by the City on the CPGC project. He had not read the City Park Master Plan (which calls for PRESERVATION), so Aaron Goldhamer could not even inquire if he thought the project was consistent with the Master Plan.
When Aaron Goldhamer commended him on his Olmsted medal (Frederick Law Olmsted known as father of modern landscape architecture), and asked him if he knew if City Park was designed as part of Olmsted’s efforts, he did not know. He did not know if CPGC was on the National Register of Historic Places. He did not know the acreage of the area of the golf course to be used for detention. He took awhile to answer a question about the typography of the golf course. He said he was unaware of ANY problems that currently exist at City Park Golf Course! (This is part of plaintiffs’ case.) He was “not sure” and “not aware” of many details, and kept coming back to his general extensive experience informing his testimony.
I hope others will jump in here because I can’t recall all the faux pas of his testimony. It certainly was an “ah hah” moment for people in attendance, hearing Mr. Benepe talk about his experience in “green infrastructure,” drop anecdotes about the Nederlands’ attempt to use public space (below sea level) to design “storm capture,” and numerous other examples not comparable or applicable to CPGC.
Most uncomfortable for me was the moment Mr. Benepe stated that it would be “civic malpractice” for Denver to not use CPGC for this project. The implication made many times is that there are no limits to the Director of Parks & Recreation in using its parks for any and every conceivable use. He knew nothing about the 2014 Storm Drainage Plan, knew nothing about I70, knew nothing about how much soil testing had been done on existing 138 acres of golf course. Most of the courtroom sat in shock as he admitted having no knowledge of the RFP or the 2001 City Park Master Plan that covers City Park Golf Course.
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UPDATE:TRIAL TO SAVE CPGC FROM DESTRUCTION DAY#2
Another big thanks to the crowd (somewhat smaller, could use some new faces Wednesday or Thursday!) who sat for parts of the J.D. MacFarlane vs. City & County of Denver trial today! We will start Wednesday at 9 am, 1437 Bannock, Courtroom 269.
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Aaron Goldhamer and Tony Vaida continued to present the Plaintiffs’ case Tuesday in Judge David Goldberg’s Courtroom. Tuesday’s first witness — put on the stand as part of the Plaintiffs’ case — was Director of Parks & Recreation Happy Haynes, and she was asked numerous tough questions about her knowledge of parks’ policies such as the 2001 City Park Master Plan which recommends Preservation for all of City Park, including the City Park Golf Course. Aaron Goldhamer spent considerable time asking Ms. Haynes about the purpose of the proposed Stormwater Project, about Park Purpose in general, about negative impacts of the project, and whether she knew of any Denver park that had been closed in its entirety for a considerable length of time to install a regional storm water detention facility. He also pressed her as to why she did not allow the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board hold a vote on the Platte to Park Hill project. This editor is not 100% sure, but believes Ms. Haynes did agree that helping CDOT with its highway construction support is not a park purpose. Additionally, Ms. Haynes opined about replacing the “lost” trees with the City’s tree canopy program which can replace “lost” trees (did you know all the trees chopped down in one fell swoop will be considered a “loss”?) with new trees at parks around the ‘hood. She believes replacing only 42% of the canopy at the course itself is a “robust” replanting of trees.
Councilwoman Ortega testified briefly about the evolution of this drainage project to $298Million, that the rate increase was an unusual size, her concerns with passing an IGA without dealing with protection of Globeville at the same time, and the fact that the IGA directly ties I70 together with the Platte to Park Hill Project. Bruce Uhernik, an engineer with public works testified about the 2014 Storm Drainage Master Plan, admitting that Platte to Park Hill was not included in that last-approved storm drainage plan, but stating that parts of the statements in that plan are really not correct because they work in some conditions but not for the Montclair and Park Hill Basins. Chris Proud, who was Happy’s right-hand man to provide her with information about the project, also testified at length about his emails to the “team” his expressing concerns, saying that “at the time” the City really didn’t have an understanding about what the impacts of taking City Park Golf Course might be, and he wanted the team to take these into consideration.
Lastly, we heard from two of Plaintiffs’ experts, including Adrian Brown, the engineer many of you have seen in videos explaining the risk of Globeville Landing Outfall project. Attorney Tony Vaida led Adrian through his testimony, the Plaintiffs “rested” their case. That means Plaintiffs were finished presenting.
At that point the City Attorney asked the Court to issue a Directed Verdict in favor of the City. In other words, the City argued that based on what had been presented, there was not enough for the trial to move forward, and the trial should be ended The Judge laid out the law about issuing Directed Verdicts, and then issued a finding that Plaintiffs had presented enough evidence to establish a “prima facie” case and that the trial would continue.
The next two days belong to the defendants to put on their witnesses. They will put Bruce Uhernik and Happy Haynes on again tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone for the great support. Hope to see a few of you for part of the day tomorrow. Even if you can only drop in for an hour, it is appreciated.
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Tree Hugger In Chief
And I can tell you about my drive every day from the urban heat island we know as downtown Denver, on my way home, as soon as I hit City Park, the thermometer on my car measuring the outside temperature, goes down 5 degrees.
So I know from my own research and from my personal experience that we couldn’t survive and we couldn’t thrive in our city without the wonderful influence of the trees.
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Neighbors fight to save trees ahead of trial involving Denver’s City Park Golf Course
Trial is set for August 21
There’s new sense of urgency surrounding the fight to save trees at Denver’s City Park Golf Course.
Denver City Council is set to vote on contracts related to a controversial drainage project at the golf course. The work involves a stormwater drainage project and course redesign.
The proposed contracts are on the agenda for Monday, August 14, after the vote was delayed by a week. Councilman Rafael Espinoza requested the delay and sent a letter to Mayor Michael Hancock Friday morning asking him to deny the contracts.
“It doesn’t make any sense to contract with someone for tree removal when the question of is this an appropriate use of park land remains,” said Espinoza.
His concerns are echoed by a group of concerned residents. They want council to leave the trees alone and hold off on approving the contracts until a pending legal battle is sorted out.
“I think it’s wrong that they need to stop, they need to wait and they need to continue to listen. Whether that’s going to happen or not I don’t know, but that’s what I think is the right thing to do,” said Nancy Francis, a Denver resident.
An email addressed to council members and obtained by Denver7 said the project is on a “very tight schedule.” It goes on to list the number of trees being removed as well as the size of the trees being removed. The email states 263 trees will be removed from the course as part of the project.
“We are concerned that the city will go ahead and begin to remove trees and we don’t want to see that happen,” said Francis.
The case is set to go to trial on August 21.
ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS AND VIDEOS ARE HERE
Gilmore Ethics Complaint filed by Former District 10 Council Woman Cathy DonohueGilmore Ethics Complaint
Denver Post Editorial regarding Stacie Gilmore and conflict of interest.
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Please Write Your Council Person, Subject Line: Council Bill 17-0823, 17-0824, 17-1826
This Monday, Aug 7, 2017 Council members will vote to enter into a contract for the excavation of City Park Golf Course. The legal challenge is set for trial August 21. Please copy the below addresses, the letter and email to our Council members and urge them to respect the judicial and public process.
Copy and paste these addresses for 13 members of City Council.
Albus.Brooks@denvergov.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, MaryBeth.Susman@denvergov.org, email@example.com, Paul.Lopez@denvergov.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Christopher.email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Subject Line: Council Bill 17-0823, 17-0824, 17-1826
To Denver City Council:
I am a Denver resident writing to urge you to vote NO on Council Bills approving construction contracts with Saunders Construction and Parsons Transportation Group for work related to City Park Golf Course and other portions of the Platte to Park Hill drainage project.
J.D. MacFarlane’s legal challenge to the city’s plan to take City Park Golf Course for drainage is set for trial Aug. 21, 2017. Therefore, I believe it is premature to approve bills related to City Park Golf Course excavation on Monday Aug. 7, 2017.
I am disturbed by Mayor Hancock’s decision to bring these bills to you before the resolution of the MacFarlane lawsuit. Furthermore, a symbolic one week delay of your vote is insufficient. Information about the contract terms, costs, and schedule is not the issue for me, but rather the Hancock Administration’s disregard for both judicial and public processes.
I urge you to vote NO on Council Bills 17-0823, 17-0824, and 17-1826 and instruct the City to wait for the court’s decision.
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Let your voice be heard in favor of
More Open Space, less Development!
Please join Clayton Early Learning for Community Forum #2 to continue the community discussion regarding the future of Park Hill Golf Course. The meeting will take place from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm on Thursday August 10, 2017 on the Clayton Campus in the Administration Building. The campus is located at 3801 Martin Luther King Boulevard (Colorado Blvd/Martin Luther King Blvd.) Questions? Please contact Liz Adams email@example.com
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Press Release July 31, 2017
For Immediate Release
July 31, 2017
CPFAN issues response to Mayor Hancock’s plan to appear at the Denver Press Club’s celebration of its placement on the National Register of Historic Places
City Park Friends and Neighbors (CPFAN) applauds Mayor Hancock for honoring the Denver Press Club upon its placement on the U.S. National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places with a plaque and celebration on August 2, 2017. The National Register exists to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. Listing the Denver Press Club on the National Register implies a commitment by the city to honor the national significance for which it has been recognized and to insure that it continues to be preserved intact for future generations by following National Park Service preservation standards and guidelines.
City Park Golf Course has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986, at which time the City and County of Denver made a commitment to preserve and protect its natural and historic resource values, just as it does today for the Denver Press Club. City Park Golf Course, a 104 year old treasure of our city, was recognized on the National Register for its 1913 design by the best landscape architects of their time, the Olmsted Brothers and Tom Bendelow. It deserves the same attention, care and respect as the Denver Press Club.
What does it say about our city and the value of its commitments when in one breath our mayor can pledge long term stewardship of the Denver Press Club building and in the next sacrifice City Park Golf Course to redevelopment for drainage? City Park Friends and Neighbors believe Denver can do better and we urge the Hancock Administration to meet the commitment it made to preserve and protect City Park Golf Course.
City Park Friends and Neighbors
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Resolution Regarding Overland Park Golf Course
Whereas, Overland Park Golf Course, designated in 1956, is an important part of Denver’s park system, providing affordable and accessible golf to Denver’s citizens continuously since its founding in 1895;
The ABE policy explicitly identifies parks where Admission-based Events are allowed. Overland Pond Park is not one of the parks where Admission-based events are allowed. And this kind of Admission-based event was not even contemplated at Overland Park Golf Course, or any golf course, since golf courses are 100% dedicated to golf and require specialized turf maintenance.
The ABE policy limits closure to the general public to 4 days, including set up and tear down, and it allows only 20% of the grounds to be closed to the public. The proposed festival contract will close Overland Golf Course entirely for 5 weeks during prime golf season every year for 5 years.
The ABE policy limits the maximum attendance of Admission-based events to 7500 persons. The proposed contract anticipates 20,000 – 40,000 attendees every day for 3 days each summer for 5 years.
and Whereas, the proposed Overland Park Golf Course Festival contract, if approved, will render the Admission-based Event Policy meaningless and erode trust both in public process and between the citizens of Denver and the Hancock Administration.
Therefore, City Park Friends and Neighbors resolve:
We urge City Council to comply with the provisions of the Admission-based Event policy and reject the proposal to commit to staging a multi-day music festival in Overland Park Golf Course for the next five years.
We encourage the Hancock Administration to work with the commercial promoter to find a suitable location for their multi-day, multi-year festival in an appropriate venue in the Denver area, not in a public park.
We propose City Council and the Hancock Administration initiate a public process to develop a Denver Festival Park and Event Center to mount commercial music festivals and similar events for the Denver community.
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It’s Full Steam Ahead In The City Park Golf Course Lawsuit
Four weeks to go. Please chip in.
If you would like to donate online, click https://www.gofundme.com/cityparklegalfund
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Opponents of CDOT’s I-70 Widening File Suit Against the Federal Highway Administration
By David Sachs
In February, Colorado Department of Transportation Director Shailen Bhatt told a group of people fighting the widening of I-70 through north Denver neighborhoods to “sue us.” The advocates took his advice.
The lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration, brought by developer Kyle Zeppelin and other opponents of the highway widening, will officially be filed Monday — the last possible date to challenge the environmental impact statement (EIS).
FHWA approved and is helping to fund CDOT’s project. The complaint says the agency violated the National Environmental Protection Act by failing to conduct sufficient oversight of the project’s EIS.
The suit takes specific aim at the agreement Denver reached with CDOT in 2015 that put local taxpayers on the hook for a project to funnel stormwater away from the 40-foot ditch the agency plans to dig to widen the freeway. The FHWA approved an EIS that did not account for the flood protection project, and the lawsuit aims to “show that both the City of Denver and CDOT intentionally hid the connection between the Platte to Park Hill Drainage Project and the Central I-70 project,” according to a press release.
Other lawsuits are still pending against CDOT’s plan to triple the footprint of I-70, which would generate more traffic and displace people in the mostly low-income, Latino neighborhoods of Elyria, Swansea, and Globeville. Advocates fighting the highway widening are going for a cumulative effect in court.
“Rather than have a single strategy, we’re trying to have a multi-pronged strategy,” said Brad Evans, who runs the Ditch the Ditch advocacy group and is also a plaintiff.
In related legal developments, there will be hearing in DC this September for a lawsuit that challenges the Environmental Protection Agency’s lax air quality standards. And there’s also an active lawsuit against the city over the City Park Golf Course water detention plan tied to I-70.
“The ideal outcome would be to put an end to the whole project,” said Jennifer Winkel, a local activist and spokesperson for the plaintiffs. “There are four lawsuits, and this is the one that will stall it, buy us some time … If we tie it up in the courts, that buys us time for the other lawsuits to do what they need to do.”
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HISTORIC DENVER SPEAKS UP FOR THE PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC CITY PARK GOLF COURSE
CDOT Response June 2017
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Continued Community Opposition to I-70 Expansion and Denver’s Stormwater Project
Posted: June 21, 2017 at 10:39 am by KGNU News
The Colorado Department of Transportation is planning to expand the 10-mile section of I-70 that runs between I-25 and Chambers Road in Denver. The Elyria/Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods will be most impacted, with opponents to the project saying these low-income neighborhoods will suffer from years of construction disruption and that ultimately the project will lead to more gentrification. CDOT’s plans would see the existing two-mile viaduct demolished and in its place a highway below ground level that will be triple the width of the existing road.
Opponents say the expansion would displace at least 56 households and worsen local air quality. More than 80 percent of residents in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood are Latino, and a third of the residents live in poverty. Opponents of the highway expansion used those demographics in a lawsuit to stop the project, saying that poor and minority communities would be disproportionately impacted. In April Federal civil rights investigators found that CDOT’s plan would be less discriminatory toward Elyria-Swansea and Globeville, than any other option studied.
A group of protestors gathered in Denver on Sunday June 18th, at the corner of 26th Ave & York St., to raise awareness of the impact of the highway expansion on local communities. They were joined by allies from other community groups concerned about a massive ditch project in Denver and the redesign of City Park golf club as part of wider flood management.
Last year, Denver City Council approved an increase to the storm water fee which would finance some major storm water improvements in the city including the Platte to Park Hill project which includes a 1 1/2 mile above ground channel that would carry water to the Platte, along 39th Street. A detention area will be developed in City Park, to allow the city to contain the water and slowly release it into the existing pipe system with a view to reducing flooding.
Candi CdeBaca, the founder of the neighborhood group Cross Community Coalition told KGNU’s Dave Ashton that the drainage projects must be completed before the I-70 expansion can begin and that’s why the projects are all connected.
“In the contract for the I-70 ditch, the stormwater protection, the 100 year protection has to be done first before they can begin construction on the actual I-70 ditch.”
CdeBaca says that CDOT is going against a national trend of scaling back on urban highways. “We’ve watched cities across the country and across the world really, taking down urban interstates. We’ve recognized that in the ’50s and ’60s it was a mistake and they were designed for military, and now we know the health impacts, we know the community impacts of interstates. And so other places are taking down freeways while we’re here expanding, tripling the size of a freeway through an 84% Latino neighborhood. But we’ve already seen the impacts here: 7% higher rates of asthma, cardiovascular death, cardiovascular disease, cancer and we’re digging through the most polluted site in America.”
CdeBaca says that as Globeville is a superfund site, construction from the highway expansion will release toxins into the air. Globeville was recently designated as one of the most polluted zipcodes in the US, as a result of decades of industrial activity, which contaminated the soil with lead, arsenic and heavy metals.
Brad Evans of Ditch the Ditch says that all people who live in Denver should be concerned about the stormwater projects and the I-70 expansion. “There is a couple of billion dollars going into this that we’re all paying for.”
LaMone Noles, President of City Park Friends and Neighbors says that the lawsuit to stop the destruction of City Park golf course should make it into court in August. Noles says that all Denverites should be concerned about what’s happening in City Park. “The construction is expected to last 18 months to 2 years. There’s going to be a construction fence all the way around the project. There’s going to be disruption to traffic – pedestrian traffic as well as cars. There’s going to be construction dust, environmental pollution. Over 200 trees are going to be cut down in the inner areas of the golf course – it’s going to be total destruction.”
Hear an interview with Candy CdeBaca
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YOUR INPUT NEEDED ON CITY PARK MASTER PLAN UPDATE
Please click the following link to take a short survey on your desires/ideas/hopes regarding the future of City Park. In particular, please fill in the final entry where your personal comments are requested. Your responses will help shape the future of City Park.
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PRESS RELEASE: CITY PARK FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS (RNO) LAWSUIT INFO
PRESS RELEASE: CITY PARK FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS (RNO)
CPFAN Contacts: Maria Flora 303.345.7811 / Bridget Walsh 720.440.3562
Government Secrecy Largely Prevails in MacFarlane et al v. Denver Fight Continues to Save Historic City Park Golf Course (CPGC)
While Richard Nixon could not assert an “executive privilege” to prevent the public from knowing the truth behind Watergate, the City of Denver, is using “deliberative process privilege” to withhold information in City Park Golf Course law suit.
On June 5, 2017, the Denver District Court heard arguments regarding the City’s assertion that 220 documents (7,400 pages) should be protected by the “deliberative process” privilege—which stems from the “executive privilege”.
The Court ruled that the 7400 pages should not be handed over to the Plaintiffs
(people suing the city to protect CPGC) in the CPGC lawsuit. The City has repeatedly claimed in public and under oath, that they are committed to transparency and have nothing to hide. However, in court, the City
sang a different tune, claiming that disclosure of the 7400 pages of emails and documents would somehow chill future candid discussion among city leaders and staff.
However, the Court ruled in Plaintiff’s favor on another discovery issue. The Court ordered that the City—by this Thursday, June 9—revise and expand upon its responses to various Requests for Admission (questions). The more complete answers may provide Plaintiffs with ammunition to demonstrate the unprecedented nature of the City’s proposed use for City Park Golf Course as a component of the Platte to Park Hill storm drain system.
Plaintiffs are grateful for the many contributions, to date, towards legal costs. However, our reserves are dwindling. We need additional funds to cover our costs for this last stretch leading to the August 21 trial date—including the production of exhibits, additional filing fees, process server fees for trial subpoenas and expert witness fees (several experts are donating their time, but Plaintiffs have engaged two “paid” experts).
Attorneys Aaron Goldhamer and Tony Vaida, are counsel of record and are donating their time.
Additional contributions are necessary and will be well-utilized.
There are two ways to contribute:
1. Send a check made out to Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C., with “MacFarlane Costs” in the memo line, and mail
to 1290 Broadway, Suite 600, Denver, CO 80203.
2. Go to www.gofundme.com/cityparklegalfund
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We need your generous help to win the legal battle to save City Park Golf Course.
Why does City Park Golf Course need to be saved?
As you know, the city is proceeding with its plans to “repeal and replace” City Park Golf Course as part of its agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide drainage for the I-70 lowered highway project.
How can we save it?
Since the City Park Golf Course project is only one piece in a very large interconnected series of projects that include local, state, and federal involvement, the best, and possibly only, way to stop its destruction is through the lawsuit initiated by Aaron Goldhamer, representing JD MacFarlane (former Colorado Attorney General). Recently a number of other neighbors and Council Member Rafael Espinoza have requested to join as plaintiffs.
Why is the lawsuit a good bet?
We believe that this suit is the right thing to do and that it stands on the right side of the letter and spirit of the common law and the Charter.
How will my donation be used?
Aaron is conducting the litigation pro bono, but he needs our help with funds to pay for expenses related to the suit, including deposition costs, court fees, document production costs, and expert witnesses. He has asked us to raise $20,000 by the end of this month. We are calling on every member of CPFAN to help with a donation.
Where do I send my donation and how will the money be held?
Aaron’s firm, Keating Wagner Polidori Free, has established a client trust account for the City Park Golf Course litigation. Donations can be made:
- online at GoFundMe webpage Save City Park Golf Course Legal Fund
- by check made out to “Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C. Client Trust Account” indicating in the lower left corner “CPGC Lawsuit” and mailed to Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C., Attn: Aaron Goldhamer 1290 Broadway, Suite 600 Denver, CO 80203
Please donate today!
Many of you have already contributed. If you have not yet donated, please do so today.
CPFAN Board: Hank Bootz, John Van Sciver, Louis Plachowski, Jacqui Lansing, JD MacFarlane, LaMone Noles, Vicki Eppler
P.S. Don’t miss a bonus opportunity to boost your donation’s value: Susan Barnes-Gelt will match new contributions to the GoFundMe page up to $2000. Thank you, Susan!
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Sign our petition to stop Denver Mayor Michael Hancock from destroying an historic public park to put in an industrial storm drainage sump. Click the button at left to see more and sign the petition.
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