DougCo threat to confiscate Denver park faces three challenges

Mike McKibbin
A bison in Denver's Daniels Park. A Douglas County commissioner's plan to acquire the park faces three obstacles.| Denver Mountain Parks Foundation

By Mike McKibbin/NewsBreak Denver

[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] One Douglas County commissioner wants the county to take Denver's 1,000-acre Daniels Park to retaliate for the city's move to ban people from carrying legally concealed weapons in city parks. But his proposal faces three significant hurdles: cost, the Denver city charter and Mayor Michael Hancock.

Commissioner George Teal suggested the county review an intergovernmental agreement with Denver regarding the park near Castle Pines.

In an online post in a private conservative Facebook group, Teal suggested the county consider using eminent domain to acquire the park after Denver banned concealed carry weapons in city buildings and parks. Eminent domain is a rarely used legal procedure governments can use to acquire property for public use, but they must pay fair compensation.

Teal has not publicly stated why he wants the county to acquire the park.

"I'm OK looking at the IGA since it was done in 2017," Commissioner Lora Thomas said. "If you feel there are some things we want Denver to do like more enforcement or something in that park, I would favor that but I don't favor doing this."

Commissioner Abe Laydon backed Teal's proposal.

"Denver has big ongoing costs for their operation of these parks and other properties outside their boundaries and jurisdictions," Laydon said. "It may be worthwhile to have a conversation and talk to our counterparts in Denver about the potential benefits of an exchange of this property."
Douglas County Commissioner George Teal| Douglas County

City charter requires vote

While Teal has not responded to requests for comments, 9News reported that Denver's city charter requires voter approval to sell any city park. And one estimate of the value of the land is $800 million. That compares to Douglas County's $511 million 2022 budget.

Mayor Michael Hancock also sent a letter to Teal Wednesday that emphatically states he would not discuss or consider the idea.

During a work session Tuesday, Teal said he had talked to Denver City Council members and was willing to meet with city staff and Hancock.

"I don't think we have any hard and fast commitments that we can make right now," Teal said. "They have work that they need to do with their colleagues, so I don't want to undercut that or undermine that. I think we may see some interesting work product from them in the next couple weeks."

"This is your initiative, you have a high degree of interest in it, so I defer to your leadership on this," Laydon said.

"I hope good things come from it," Teal responded. "Within the confines of the IGA."

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