Two people sit at an overlook at Daniels Park this month in Sedalia.

DENVER • Mayor Michael Hancock fired off a terse message to a Douglas County commissioner who had threatened to seize one of the city's most beloved mountain parks: Hands off. 

"Daniels Park is a treasured piece of Denver’s Mountain Parks system," Hancock wrote in an email to Douglas County Commissioner George Teal. "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."

Teal has been assessing whether it is possible to seize Daniels Park, which is located in Castle Pines in Douglas County but owned by the city of Denver. On a Facebook post, Teal suggested that he wanted to take the park in retaliation for Denver's recent gun laws. 

In May, Denver passed a law forbidding concealed weapons in its facilities and parks. But a road that runs through Daniels Park belongs to Douglas County, which could mean that a person carrying a concealed weapon would be legal in one place and breaking the law in another.

Douglas County dg

A view of Daniels Park in Douglas County. Among a ranking of the 500 healthiest communities in the United States, Douglas County placed second, according to an annual report by U.S. News and World Report.

During a council study session on Tuesday, Teal told the group he was making progress on the idea of procuring Daniels Park from Denver, and, in fact, had plans to meet with Hancock. In the email, Hancock said he heard about Teal's plans from media reports, and not from the commissioner himself. 

The Denver Gazette learned that Teal had spoken with at least one Denver City Council member last week regarding the possible takeover. Candi CdeBaca opposed Denver's concealed-carry ordinance when it comes to its parks. 

A little over a week ago, Douglas County commissioners went into an executive session during a midday meeting for the first time to discuss the issue and then voted, 2-1, to consider what it would take to use eminent domain to seize the land. The lone dissenter, Lora Thomas, asked her colleagues to pick up the phone instead and have a conversation with Denver.

But the subject may be moot. Lawyers for both sides have been looking into whether Douglas County has the right to seize the property of another entity when that property is already in public use.

Holland and Hart real estate attorney Tim Gordon said he’s never seen eminent domain used this way before.

Daniels Path leads the way to recreation paradise

Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services employees Emily Duncan, right, and David Deitemeyer, left, stand looking out at the North Cheyenne Canon's “west parcel” from the summit of Mount Muscoco on Aug. 6.

“This is a strange one. Douglas County can take property for uses of creating a park, but it’s already a park,” said Gordon, who added that this sounds like a political move. “There might be puffing out of chests, but even if Douglas County can do this, they’d have to pay for it.”

Scott Gilmour, deputy director of Denver Parks and Recreation, guessed that the 1,000-acre park is worth  $500 million to $800 million. 

Teal could not be immediately reached for comment. Fellow Commissioner Lora Thomas responded: "While I never have — and never will — support laws that prohibit individuals from being able to protect/defend themselves, this proposal regarding Daniels Park is the wrong idea, presented in the wrong manner at the wrong time."

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