St. Thomas Episcopal Church gets criticized for backing golf course's mixed-use reconstruction

St. Thomas Episcopal Church gets criticized for backing a golf course's mixed-use reconstruction. (Photo by Mick De Paola from Unsplash)

Following the St. Thomas Episcopal Church's advocacy for a mixed-use renovation of the 155-acre Park Hill Golf Course, the church has become the target of verbal insults from opponents who favor converting the entire property into parkland.

It is located on South Park Hill. It is part of a coalition of community organizations that has actively supported Northeast Park Hill homeowners in their discussions with the developer.

Golf Course's Redevelopment

Episcopal News Service reported that St. Thomas answered "yes" to the project unequivocally. Rev. Terri Hobart, the rector at St. Thomas, was among the community coalition leaders that signed the Park Hill Community Benefits Agreement on behalf of her congregation.

The deal with the developer reportedly matches the residents' concerns, which include affordable housing units, preferences for minority-owned companies, protections against gentrification, and room for a grocery store in a food desert area of the city.

Hobart stated that it is natural for Christian communities such as St. Thomas Episcopal Church to embrace a project that gives a chance to revitalize the racially diverse, low- and middle-income neighborhoods close to the golf course.

The alliance of supporting community organizations includes the Greater Denver Interfaith Alliance and the Northeast Denver Islamic Center, whose Muslim leaders have also received criticism for signing the development agreement.

Hobart stated that St. Thomas and other coalition partners are not seeking to speak for the locals but rather to strengthen their ability to fight for their interests in the discussion over the future of the golf course.

The coalition partners pledged to enforce the agreement's conditions if the project went forward by signing the document.

When they go to the polls next month, Denver voters will help settle a passionate and, at times, emotional argument over a proposed redevelopment of a 2018-closed golf course.

Opponents and supporters in the adjacent Northeast Park Hill community, who saw the development as a possible benefit for housing, services, and economic growth in the underserved area, have engaged in open conflict.

The initiative for the April 4 (Tuesday) election asks voters whether the city should lift the easement to allow for the proposed redevelopment.

Approved Park Hill Golf Course Redevelopment Plan

Denver voters will decide the future of the Park Hill Golf Course after the Denver City Council adopted four initiatives early Tuesday, Jan. 24, following hours of public argument. 

Ordinance 301 required the golf course's destiny to be decided by "eligible voters of the City and County of Denver" after the final vote.

The first of three public hearings on the Park Hill Golf Course makeover began Monday, Jan. 23. One individual was reportedly ejected from the Denver City Council Rooms after shouting at District 8 Councilman Chris Herndon.

The City Council voted 11-2 Tuesday morning to put an ordinance on the April ballot addressing the old golf course's redevelopment. 

The measure creating five new metropolitan districts to fund the projects and development plan was approved without a public hearing.

After 150 speakers, the final vote was cast after midnight. Two-thirds of 95 speakers supported the rezoning proposal.

The city received 153 documents opposing one of the three measures, although many just said "Park Hill" without specifying which bill, while 128 papers supported.

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