Douglas County Commissioner George Teal has floated the idea of using eminent domain to take over Denver Mountain Park, located in the Southern Metro District, a conservative counterweight to the liberal capital of Colorado.
But Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has none of that. In a stern letter to Teal this week, Hancock wrote: “It would be a disservice to the communities we represent to give the false impression that the status of Daniels Park is up for debate.
“It’s not like that,” the mayor said.
Turquoise views are captivating Daniels Park as a means of countering Denver’s recent ordinance banning the concealed carry of firearms in parks and other city facilities.
Douglas County Attorney was instructed by a three-member board of commissioners to examine an intergovernmental agreement governing the 1,000-acre park, county spokeswoman Wendy Holmes said. This is what the commissioners are about. No date has been set for a follow-up discussion of this assessment, Holmes said.
9News first reported about Teal’s plans last week. He raised this issue at a working meeting of the commissioners on 13 June. During this meeting, Teal said: “I would like to request an executive meeting specifically for the purpose of obtaining legal advice on taking steps to bring Daniels Park to Douglas. County ownership,” 9News reports.
Teal did not respond to a voicemail asking for comment on the story, but one of his fellow commissioners, Laura Thomas, called the idea of taking over Daniels Park ridiculous.
Thomas, who were at odds with Teal and fellow Commissioner Abe Leydon for several months, said she first heard about Teal’s idea from a voter who sent her a screenshot of Teal’s Facebook page. In the screenshot post, Teal discusses the takeover of the park due to Denver’s recent move to restrict Second Amendment rights, according to Thomas.
There was no such post on Teal’s Facebook page on Thursday. But in a post Thursday morning, Teal wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down gun laws in New York — and could have implications for new concealed carry restrictions in Denver — “kind of ruined my plans…” not that he minds.
After being contacted by a voter, Thomas said he immediately contacted Denver officials and urged them to tune into the June 13 session to send a message that the city was not thrilled with the idea. The park, south of the Highlands Ranch but owned by Denver for more than a century, has been the subject of cooperation agreement between the two counties since 2008. It is home to part of the Denver bison herd, as well as the Tall Bull Memorial Grounds cultural area, an area reserved for indigenous use.
Thomas said she wouldn’t vote for Denver’s no concealed carry rules last month, but she also doesn’t support attempts to take over the park. She heard from Denver officials that the sale price would be about $800 million.
“I don’t know where we will get the money, and our residents can already use this park for free,” Thomas said. “Why should we do this?”
According to Thomas, Teal made public statements about contacting Denver officials about the transfer of ownership.
Hancock refuted this in a letter on Tuesday. While the mayor is open to discussing regional issues with neighboring counties and officials, he does not view ownership of Daniels Park in this way.
Hancock wrote that he was not interested in “perpetuating the misconception that the idea that Douglas County can use the eminent domain powers to acquire a park owned by the people of Denver … because you disagree with the ordinance passed by Denver.” City Council and signed into law to promote public safety.”