The city needs to find a place in northeast Denver to retain water when heavy rains flood the storm-drainage system, but residents are trying to stop Public Works from selecting
an option that would raze three blocks of the Cole neighborhood.
"We really want to stop that from happening; a lot of people have lived there for generations," said Warren Karberg, a Cole resident who could potentially lose his home.
The Platte to Park Hill Stormwater Systems project has identified two locations for a detention area. Public Works is choosing among several options in Cole — most of which would require some homes to be torn down — and one at the west end of City Park Golf Course.
The detention area would be constructed as a park and, if it is in City Park Golf Course, likely would be accompanied by a course redesign, according to project manager Jennifer Hillhouse. The areas were chosen because they are low points in the basin.
The main drawback for the golf course option is the loss of trees and temporary closures, but the project would be cheaper — the city already owns the land and wouldn't have to pay for relocation fees for Cole residents — and protect a broader area from flooding.
Cole residents have gathered more than 500 signatures on a petition to urge the city to select the golf course alternative. Public Works will present the options and feedback to the Mayor's Office next month and Mayor Michael Hancock will make a recommendation on how to proceed.
"I'm hoping they make the right decision and put it in the City Park Golf Course," Karberg said.
Public Works presented options in both the City Park and Cole neighborhoods this week.
"There is a strong consensus for City Park Golf Course. We understand that Cole prefers City Park Golf Course," Hillhouse said.
Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks attended both meetings and said he feels the golf course option is best and noted that many in City Park agreed.
"I believe folks who live in City Park who saw the tradeoffs agree it makes more sense. It's not a complete consensus, but we're starting to get a lot of feedback," Brooks said. "In my opinion, we can't do the Cole option."
Some Cole residents left the meeting feeling like the golf course would be the choice, but they are still disturbed that the possibility of losing their homes is even an option.
"I think we raised hell," Cole resident Diane Rhodes said. "I don't know if the fight is won."
Rhodes said she hopes to work with the City Park neighbors to ensure that the city closely monitors water quality throughout the stormwater system and also that no homes are lost as the city builds an open channel waterway that looks like it will run north of 38th Avenue and could be accompanied by an amenity such as a bike path.
Hillhouse left the meeting assuring residents that their input will have an impact on the decision.
She said: "Your voice has been heard, I will carry it with me. The leadership has heard, as well."