May 04, 2017
Upon the recommendation of Denver Auditor Upon the recommendation of Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, Denver’s Department of Parks and Recreation formally adopted a designation policy for Denver’s parks. An audit of the City’s land and infrastructure assets was conducted in March of 2016, and the need for such a policy was one of the findings.
“The issue of formally designating parks – or failing to do so – came to the public’s attention because of a 2013 transfer of City-owned land to Denver Public Schools. Opponents of the transfer cited a City Charter provision that forbids the sale or lease of park land without voter approval. Although this parcel of land was open space, it had never been formally designated as a park. We determined that adopting a formal designation policy would diminish the confusion in this area,” O’Brien noted.
DPR also clarified the procedures for donation of land, another recommendation in the audit. Consistently following the process could prevent the transfer of land that needs substantial environmental remediation, or land that DPR lacks the resources to property maintain
“In adherence to generally accepted government auditing standards, we issue follow-up reports on every audit,” O’Brien explained. “It allows us to determine whether audit recommendations agreed to by the departments are actually implemented, and aids us in planning future audits. This is in keeping with our desire to achieve meaningful improvements in the departments, operations, and contracts we audit.”
The new Parks Designation Policy was adopted after having been presented to the City’s Policy Review Committee, the DPR Parks Designation Committee, the Parks Committee of Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC), and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
As part of the audit, the team produced an inventory of all DPR managed-land in Denver. The spreadsheet shows the acreage of each parcel, whether it has been designated as a park (as of the end of 2015), the year it was designated, as well as what hasn’t been designated, including what is ineligible to be designated. Reasons for ineligibility vary, but often open space can’t be designated as a park because it is right-of-way, or because the land belongs to another entity. You can see the full audit report here, where the inventory is included as Appendix B. The follow-up report can be viewed here.
The City’s geographic information systems team also produced a map with the DPR-managed land identified as designated, partially designated, or not designated.