By: Matt Wagner, Front Porch
As a former Director of Conservation Outreach for World Wildlife Fund and avid outdoorsman, I understand the ecological value of open space. However, following the Park Hill Golf Course debate, I’m shocked to see pseudo environmentalism being used as a shield to silence the voice of an already marginalized and underrepresented community.
Efforts that allow Denver residents—many of whom have never visited the golf course and do actually have a grocery store in their neighborhood—to silence the voice of an underserved community is voter suppression.
The community immediately surrounding the former Park Hill Golf Course doesn’t want a 155-acre park. They want a 60-acre park with mature trees and playground equipment. They need a grocery store, affordable homes and apartments, commercial space reserved for local business, and access to public transportation to get to work and get their kids to school.
301 is backed by a wealthy few who are taking decisions about the future of the former golf course away from Northeast Park Hill’s residents by letting the entire city decide. They frame the discussion around climate change, fully knowing that a golf course is an environmental sink of sprinkler systems, law mowers and fertilizer. Watering more than a hundred acres of grass doesn’t help with climate change, rather it pushes desperately needed affordable housing further away from transit and economic centers. *Important fact: the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is transportation.
Now that the City has begun a planning process and is listening to the neighbors living around the former golf course, the wealthy few are filing lawsuits, contorting facts, misrepresenting their intentions, and diluting the voices and votes of the underserved community that lives in the area.
I live in Central Park, and I don’t want someone from South Park Hill or Cherry Creek telling me what we need. Would you?
Don’t be fooled—301 isn’t a choice between open space and development. It’s a choice for equity, living our progressive values, and preserving a local community’s right to self-determination.
I’m for local choices and voices. I’m voting yes on 302 and no on 301!
Matt Wagner lives in Central Park, has a master’s degree in sustainable development from DU’s Sturm College of Law, and is the former director of conservation outreach for World Wildlife Fund. director of conservation outreach for World Wildlife Fund.