Douglas County Commissioner George Teal floated the idea of using eminent domain to seize a Denver mountain park located in the south metro county, a conservative counter pole to Colorado’s liberal capital city.
But Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is having none of it. In a sternly worded letter addressed to Teal this week, Hancock, wrote, “It would be a disservice to the communities we represent to create the false impression that the status of Daniels Park is a matter up for discussion.
“It is not,” the mayor said.
The Douglas County attorney has been instructed by the three-member board of commissioners to examine the intergovernmental agreement that governs the 1,000-acre park, county spokeswoman Wendy Holmes said. That is as far as the commissioners have taken the issue. No date has been set for a follow-up discussion of that evaluation, according to Holmes.
9News first reported on Teal’s plans last week. He raised this issue at a commissioners’ work session on June 13. During that meeting, Teal said, “I’d like to request an executive session specifically for the purposes of receiving legal advice on proceeding with taking action to bring Daniels Park into Douglas County ownership,” according to 9News.
Teal did not return a voicemail seeking comment for this story but one of his fellow commissioners, Lora Thomas, called the idea of seizing Daniels Park ridiculous.
Thomas, who has been at odds with Teal and fellow commissioner Abe Laydon for months, said she first learned of a Teal’s idea through a constituent who sent her a screenshot of Teal’s Facebook page. In the screenshotted post, Teal discusses seizing the park because of Denver’s recent move to limit Second Amendment rights, Thomas said.
There was no such post visible on Teal’s Facebook page Thursday. But in a post published Thursday morning, Teal wrote that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a New York gun law — and could have implications for Denver’s new concealed carry limits — was “sorta messing with my plans…” not that he minds.
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After being contacted by a constituent, Thomas said he immediately reached out to Denver officials and urged them to tune into the June 13 session to send the message that the city was not amused by the idea. The park, located south of Highlands Ranch but owned by Denver for more than a century, has been the subject of a cooperative agreement between the two counties since 2008. It is home to part of Denver’s bison herd as well as the Tall Bull Memorial Grounds cultural area, an area set aside for use by Indigenous peoples.
Thomas said she would not have voted in favor of the concealed carry ban rules Denver adopted last month but she is not in favor of attempting to take over the park either. She has heard from Denver officials that the sale price would be around $800 million.
“I don’t know where we would get the money and our residents can already enjoy that park for free,” Thomas said “Why would we do this?”
Teal made public statements about being in touch with Denver officials about a transfer in ownership, Thomas said.
Hancock, in his letter Tuesday, refuted that. While the mayor is open to discussing matters of regional concerns with neighboring counties and officials, he does not view Daniels Park’s ownership that way.
Hancock wrote that he has no interest in “perpetuating a flawed notion that there is any merit to the idea that Douglas County can exercise eminent domain authority to acquire a park owned by the people of Denver … because you disagree with an ordinance passed by the Denver City Council and signed into law to promote public safety.”