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Nonprofit asks state Supreme Court to stop school construction on park land

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The nonprofit Friends of Denver Parks has filed for an emergency injunction for relief through the Colorado Supreme Court, as the Denver Public Schools begins construction of a school on contested park land in Hampden Heights North Park, the organization’s attorney, John Case, said Friday, March 7, 2014.

The park land is the object of pending issues before both the Colorado Supreme Court and the Denver District Court, but the school district proceeded with construction on March 3. The Denver city charter prohibits the sale of any part of park land without approval of Denver voters in an election, Case said.

"The city's been incorrect this whole time and hoping no one would notice," Case said Friday.

Friends of Denver Parks has a pending writ of certiorari before the Supreme Court, asking for it to consider the park land deal between the city of Denver and the school district as well as the city’s refusal to accept the nonprofit’s petitions to place the land deal on the ballot for the city’s voters. It also has a jury trial slated for May 19 in Denver District Court.

Next week, the group plans to ask Denver District Court Judge Herbert L. Stern III for a summary judgment in its favor, Case said Friday. The city’s zoning code of 2010 designates the land as an official city park. A deposition of city and school officials is slated for March 13 in the offices of Case’s law firm.

Case, a partner in the law firm Benson & Case, LLP, is representing the nonprofit pro bono. He wrote the organization’s supporters that he remains confident in a favorable outcome. “The truth is on our side,” he said.

Case received a commendation from the Colorado House of Representatives in February, after receiving the president’s award from Denver Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation, a nonprofit representing 95 registered Denver neighborhoods. The commendations both addressed his pro bono work for Friends of Denver Parks.