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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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HANCOCK vs. DENVER PARKS: Return control to the people.
Larry Ambrose, long time champion of Denver neighborhoods, Past President of Inter Neighborhood Cooperation (INC) , last minute write in candidate for Mayor of Denver and leader in Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Assosciation will speak at CPFAN’s July 5 meeting. He will address the lack of citizen control over Denver Parks and he will offer some ideas about how to take it back.
Now, Mayor Hancock, through his appointed Director of Department of Parks and Recreation, Happy Haynes, alone decides what is a park use. He is the Denver Park’s Dictator. It could, and it should be a very different picture.
Come and hear Larry’s version of Denver’s future. Continue reading
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CDOT Response June 2017
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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.
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By Bridget Walsh, CPFAN Member
The city of Denver wants to install one large part of a huge, industrial, storm water drain, Platte to Park Hill (P2PH), in historic .City Park Golf Course (CPGC) The drain is designed to keep the controversial expansion and lowering of Highway I 70 , from flooding. It could also save the developers around the Western Stock Show much of the cost of doing their own water mitigation. P2PH could also facilitate the construction of Olympic Village 2026, a plan that seems to have been hatched by Denver elites, the Mayor and the Governor. Has anyone asked you?
Both the highway expansion and the drain are destructive, old fashioned infrastructure “solutions” that many say, will not serve Denver residents well as we face new age challenges. Both of these projects, I 70 and the drain, seem to be robbing Colorado taxpayers of billions of dollars that are sorely needed all over Colorado, for progressive, green solutions to real challenges such as climate change, water conservation, hotter temperatures, water wars, severe weather, dirty air, soil and water, etc.
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June 18, 2017, by Tammy Vigil
Fox/Channel 2 News Jun 18, 2017
DENVER — We’ve been talking about expanding I-70 through the metro for nearly 15 years. And still, opposition to it stands strong–literally.
Dozens of folks came out to continue fighting the I-70 Expansion project they say is too expensive and won’t do much to reduce traffic congestion on Sunday.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) built the section of I-70 in the 1960’s. And now, CDOT will rebuild what’s considered the worst-rated bridge starting early next year.
That is, unless, a group with their “Ditch the Ditch” signs, can halt the highway.
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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)
CPFAN Contacts: Maria Flora 303.345.7811 / Bridget Walsh 720.440.3562
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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DENVER — After the denial of permits for Denver’s 420 Rally, questions are being raised about how permits are granted to organizations holding events in public parks.
Some people believe there should be a more vigorous public discussion before the city gives event organizers a green light.
The smattering of homes near the Overland Golf Course Park is usually a quiet neighborhood.
But it won’t be that way for several weeks in the fall of 2018 if the city approves a permit for a concert and art show that could temporarily shut down the course.
Helene Orr, who lives across the street said, “When you’re talking 50,000 to 70,000 people per day for three days your talking three weeks of major construction … and we’re talking stages that are two and three stories high. This is a major major thing happening.”
Orr said there was never a public notice that a company had applied to hold the event here.
“The city feels like they have the right to use or misuse for whatever they want to do. And combine with a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of lawyers and architects that live there to fight it,” she said.
“It’s not fair,” Tom Morris said.
Morris has been fighting to change the way the city of Denver approves permits for events at public parks.
“We need to have an organized expectable process where we’re guaranteed to be notified if there is going to be a change in the use of the park and time to think about it and opportunities to participate with public discussion,” Morris said.
The city’s Parks and Rec Department told us organizations currently only need to apply for a permit.
No public hearings are necessary.
That’s not good enough according to Morris.
“I have been asking to zone the parks because we apply zoning to every other scrap of land in the city and not our most valuable land which is these parks.”
The city has not yet approved the concert and show at Overland.
A parks spokesman said it wants to make sure the venue is ready to handle the noise, trash and parking.
Still, some who live here are worried there will be problems.
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