By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4) – The public will have a chance to learn more about Denver’s controversial plan to re-work City Park Golf Course.
The goal is to redesign the course for new storm water detention areas to reduce flooding in northeast Denver neighborhoods.
“The flooding around here is severe, so I think this is going to be a good idea,” Bryan Dillon, who lives near the course, said.
An open-house meeting held inside the clubhouse at the golf course Thursday evening allowed the public to talk with project designers and city officials about the project. A common question among visitors was what the detention area would look like.
“I think there was a misconception that it was going to be this big pond, a big cement pond that would be there all the time and the golf course wouldn’t be a golf course anymore,” Scott Rethlake, Director of Golf for the City of Denver, said.
“That’s not true. It’s going to be this great golf course that’s much more interesting than it is now because of the integration of the storm water and wetlands channel that flows through,” Rethlake said, “It’ll be a feature that golfers will enjoy.”
The meeting comes after Mayor Michael Hancock received an online petition of more than 2,700 signatures from people who want to preserve the historical course.
The city says the project is long overdue, calling the century-old network of aging pipes undersized and inadequate.
City official also say part of the work will include a detention area at York Street and 26th Avenue that will stay dry outside of major storm events.
“The majority of it is actually above surface,” Rethlake said, “There will be a wetlands channel that runs through the golf course that runs as water quality, so there will be plants that’ll absorb all the bad things that can be in storm water.”
Rethlake went on to say, “That channel will handle up to about a ten year event. When you have a 100-year event, it’ll flood part of the golf course, but there’s a 102-inch pipe under the golf course now, and that’ll convey water out and down to the Platte.”
The project, budgeted for $40 million, has drawn sharp criticism, even a lawsuit against the city.
“It has nothing to do with preventing flooding,” said Christine O’Connor, an opponent of the city’s entire Platte to Park Hill: Stormwater Systems project, “It has to do with building the drainage infrastructure for I-70.”
Opponents like O’Connor are also frustrated with the number of trees that are marked for removal, even though Rethlake says planners did everything they could to keep as many trees as possible.
“We’re still going to keep around 68-69% of trees that are here today,” he said, “The other trees taken out will be mitigated according to our rules and regulations that has to do with the canopy of trees that are taken out.”
Thought the city says the plan integrated the public’s concerns, some say pending litigation should put the entire plan on hold.
“A decision on that lawsuit has not yet been made, yet the city is moving forward on their plans,” Louis Plachowski, another opponent of the project, told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann, “which is showing, in my opinion, a complete disrespect for our legal system by moving ahead before the judge says whether they can or they cannot.”
There will be a second meeting at the City Park Golf Course Clubhouse on Oct. 14th at 9:30 a.m.
The course will stay open until November. Work is expected to be complete in 2019.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.