Park Hill residents sue to keep safe outdoor campground out of their neighborhood

The new location at Park Hill United Methodist Church was announced last month.

Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite

May. 07, 2021, 12:18

Five Park Hill residents are suing the city, Colorado Village Collaborative and Park Hill United Methodist Church to prevent the church from hosting a safe outdoor campground in its parking lot.

The lawsuit filed this week in Denver District Court also names Rev. Nathan Adams, the church’s pastor, as a defendant. The church announced last month that it would host the site in conjunction with the Colorado Village Collaborative and with funding from the city.

Cole Chandler, executive director of the collaboration, said Friday the lawsuit would not stop their goal of providing housing to 100 people per night by June. The collaboration announced on Wednesday the opening of a second secure outdoor camping site at Regis University.

“What this means for CVC is that we are more committed to this site than ever before,” said Chandler. “We are thrilled to bring it to life with the support of dozens of Park Hill neighbors who are ready to stand up for their values ​​and build a world where people have homes and we can make our claims and our backyard signs that Black Lives Question.”

The lawsuit alleges that putting the site in the church parking lot will pose a danger to minors and school-aged children in the area (the church is near Park Hill Elementary School and other schools) and children on site at the church. He suggests that the proposed new site, unlike the existing Denver Community Church site in Cap Hill, does not have easy access to food, public transportation, health care, or employment resources. He argues that moving the site to the church parking lot will encourage worshipers to park in nearby streets, removing parking spaces for local residents and those who visit them.

The lawsuit alleges that members of the public were unable to provide adequate comments on the proposal.

A statement from the City of Denver said it understands the “concerns, fears and questions raised by residents” about the project, and that the city will work in partnership with the collaboration to address those concerns.

“We are proud of the CVC – it will take a city-wide approach to provide safer, healthier and more dignified options for our homeless neighbors than living on the streets,” the statement said.

The five plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Jean-Baptiste Varnie, Justin Lovac, Kurt Monigle, Dave Rodman and Blair Taylor.

We have contacted the lawyers representing the plaintiffs by phone and email for comment. Taylor, who unsuccessfully showed up at city council headquarters to represent Park Hill in 2019, declined to comment when reached by phone on Friday.

Sally J. Minick

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