Category Archives: City Park

ANOTHER NAIL IN THE I 70/ PLATTE TO PARK HILL COFFIN?

Contact: Aaron Goldhamer

Tel.: 303.534.0401

Email: agoldhamer@keatingwagner.com

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Zeppelin Plaintiffs Move to Enjoin I-70 Widening Project

 Denver, CO

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

303.534.0401 Main

ATTACHMENT HERE

motion.for.stay

303.534.8333 Fax

www.keatingwagner.com

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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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Neighbors fight to save trees ahead of trial involving Denver’s City Park Golf Course

Trial is set for August 21

By liz.gelardi@kmgh.com

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 Donohue

Gilmore Ethics Complaint

Denver Post Editorial regarding Stacie Gilmore and conflict of interest.

http://www.denverpost.com/2015/07/29/for-denver-city-councils-stacie-gilmore-a-serious-conflict-on-park-issues/

 

 

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Denver assembles City Park Golf Course redesign team

By Joseph Rios

The Denverite June 26, 2016

The city of Denver is pushing hard for controversial renovations to Denver’s City Park Golf Course. This week the team who will be responsible for the redesign and construction of the course presented to City Council members their vision of what the golf course could become.

Contracts with Parsons transportation group, Flatiron Construction Inc. and Saunders Construction for design and construction of the City Park Golf Course improvement project were all advanced Tuesday by Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members, despite two outstanding lawsuits related to the project.

Meet the team responsible for the City Park Golf Course:

The City Park Golf Course redesign team’s lineup includes the city and county of Denver, Saunders Construction with Aspen Corporation, clubhouse architect Johnson Nathan Strohe and golf course architect and designer iConGolf Studio. While iConGolf Studio designs the course it will receive advice from champion golfer Hale Irwin.

Irwin is known for leaving a legacy on the PGA Tour. He won three U.S. Open titles and the 1979 World Cup Championship. Todd Schoeder, chief design officer of iConGolf Studio, expressed his excitement to collaborate with Irwin.

“He is going to be very engaged throughout the process. He will be engaged in the layout, the strategy of the golf course, the feature construction, what it is going to look like, how it is going to play,” Schoeder said.

“I bring a vision of what (the average) player, I think, enjoys,” Irwin said. “Whether that be a public player, private player, it doesn’t matter. You still have to grab a golf club and hit the golf ball.”

iCon Golf Studio has worked with Irwin’s Hale Irwin Golf Design before. The two companies have completed and renovated golf courses in Washington, Maryland and other places.

What will City Park Golf Course look like?

Denver has four things it wants to accomplish with a redesign of City Park Golf Course: to build a stormwater detention system that blends and integrates into the design of the course, to remain sensitive to historical character of the property, to serve the entire community and surrounding neighborhood and to build a high quality Parkland style golf course for all skill levels.

The most important new feature — and the most controversial — is the stormwater detention.

“We know that while on the surface this is a drainage project, it is much more than that. It is about preserving the legacy of City Park and making sure that that legacy continues on after the project is done. When we’re done, no one will know it’s a drainage project,” said Leslie Fangman from Saunders Construction.

Denver officials said City Park Golf Course will include facilities for the First Tee youth golf program, extra course yardage, an 18-hole Parkland style course with par 71 and a new, relocated club house.

The clubhouse will feature rooms for community meetings, and the city wants to make it a community asset. It will also come with a distinct view of the skyline.

“There is no backdrop like that anywhere, and our challenge will be to make that golf course equally beautiful,” Irwin said.

This, of course, has seen backlash from people in Denver.

CDOT is moving forward with plans to expand and sink I-70, a project that has been some 14 years in the making. However, the highway will be in the way of water that is trying to reach the South Platte River. Therefore, the city and CDOT have to do something about the water.

Denver says the flood control project meets longstanding city needs, and it just made sense to do a project that would also meet CDOT’s needs. One lawsuit, set to go to trial in August, alleges detention is an improper use of parkland under the city charter, while a more recent federal lawsuit claims that the flood control project did not get proper consideration in the environmental impact statement for the highway project.

Councilman Rafael Espinoza has been vocal about his concerns about the project.

“This is a colossal misuse of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money that could be addressing a whole bunch of stormwater needs citywide,” Espinoza said in an interview. “While I think there is a nice and beautiful and more playable way of doing what we’re doing today, yes, I don’t object to the concept.”

That is, using the golf course for detention might be OK — just not like this.

“I do object to the way we’re using city funds and creating projects that aren’t necessary and building projects that aren’t necessary for this city, but are necessary for the interstate and confusing the two,” Espinoza said.

There are also questions as to whether the City Park Golf Course renovations will even see the light of day with multiple lawsuits against the project. Espinoza questioned how much the design process is costing the city for a project that could be halted by the court.

Attorneys for the city said that they are confident the project will be approved by the court.

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It’s Full Steam Ahead In The City Park Golf Course Lawsuit

 Four weeks to go. Please chip in.

On Friday July 21, the Judge denied Denver’s Motion for Summary Judgment, which means the MacFarlane vs. Denver trial will proceed on August 21.   We know all of you have been in limbo for months waiting to hear, so thank you for hanging in there with us!  Please pass this news on to your networks on Facebook and NextDoor!
Now we have just four weeks to go to the trial, where our attorneys will demonstrate to the Court that not only the golfers who play 50,000 rounds of golf a year at CPGC, but thousands of other Denverites will be deprived of use of CPGC for ANY park purpose during this extended stormwater project chosen as construction support for the I70 expansion.  Our lawyers will also show that— contrary to all the fancy PR coming from Denver — this project was not chosen to “improve” the Golf Course, and in fact will destroy the historic landscape design that earned the Golf Course its place on the National Register of Historic Places.  
As all our supporters know, Aaron Goldhamer and Tony Vaida are DONATING all their legal time towards this case.  But we need to cover all the costs for the next four weeks and for trial.  For all of us who have been waiting in the wings to see if this moved forward, now is the moment to step up and help cover all the costs.
There are two ways to contribute — online donation OR send a check. Either way, jump on board and do it today!
If you would like to send a check, please make it 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.

If you would like to donate online, click https://www.gofundme.com/cityparklegalfund

 

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Press Conference “Ditch The Ditch” Filed Law Suit

 

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YOUR INPUT NEEDED ON CITY PARK MASTER PLAN UPDATE

Photos by Phil Hainline

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.

https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-parks-and-recreation/planning/park-facility-projects/city-park-master-plan.html

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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.

The Court relied on the City Attorney’s representation that Plaintiffs have been provided with all final drafts of the withheld documents and didn’t need to see anything else. The Court also sided with the City regarding subpoenas that were issued to proposed contractors for the project. Despite having two proposals in hand from contractors for the planned work at CPGC, neither Plaintiffs, nor the public, will be able to view the proposed plans until the City says so.

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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CPFAN JUNE MEETING FEATURED SPEAKER

CPFAN JUNE MEETING:
Tuesday, June 6
6-8PM
Ford Warren Library . 2825 High St, Denver 80206

We are happy to announce that Phil Goodstein, independent historian, renowned speaker and one who knows where all of the bodies are buried….. will be our featured speaker at CPFAN’s June meeting.

Phil Goodstein

Well known Denver historian and prolific author,  Phil Goodstein will talk about where Denver is headed.
The city is in a crazy building boom. Vintage buildings fall victim to development  as developers and the media tout trendy new builds in LoDo, RiNo, Hi-Lo, and more.I 70 expansion compounds  environmental and social injustice.

What’s going on? How does development impact Denver residents? How does the city’s history affect current development decisions? What part does Denver’s energy economy and its boom-and-bust cycles play? How does Denver’s sports fixation affect its future?

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City Park Master Plan Update

 

Public Open House
Tuesday, May 30th
5PM to 7PM
City Park Pavilion
1700 N. York Street
Project: City Park Master Plan Update
Purpose: Join Denver Parks & Recreation and Historic Denver at City Park Pavilion to learn about the master plan update, discuss what makes City Park “the people’s park” and share your ideas for this planning process!
For more information, visit www.denvergov.org/parkprojects or contact Kelly Ream | Project Manager 720.913.0671 | kelly.ream@denvergov.org

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