On Friday, Adams County fired the latest shot in a quickly escalating skirmish between Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and various elected officials in the communities surrounding DIA. Planning for Hancock’s “airport city” concept that has been going on for more than a year are now deteriorating rapidly, with Adams County demanding its land back on Friday and Hancock calling their offer “a joke.” The move by Adams County is the step before filing a lawsuit on behalf of its residents.
At issue is the Intergovernmental Agreement between Adams County and Denver regarding the appropriate use of land that Adams County residents agreed to give to Denver as part of the DIA development project. Adams County would bear the burden of supporting costly infrastructure and services to support economic activity on what is now airport property, but would not receive any taxes to cover these expenses, as substantially all of the economic activity would occur on Denver land. This is obviously a costly scenario for Adams County taxpayers, who made a point to memorialize this agreement when they allowed Denver to annex their land.
Adams County is now suggesting that it simply gets its land back, calling the idea a “true regional solution” and comparing it to how the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport is managed, an airport that was supposed to be a model for Hancock’s “airport city” concept.
The Denver Post is now reporting that Mayor Hancock called the latest proposal ludicrous and accused his counter-parties of not negotiating in good faith. According to Hancock:
“Their irresistible temptation to slap Denver really overrides their ability to think broadly and cooperatively about the real economic gem that we have. They simply can’t let go of the 25-year-old history and dislike for Denver to work cooperatively with us enough to benefit the people we are elected to serve.”
It is interesting that Hancock is now accusing his adversaries of not negotiating in good faith, when the airport’s surrounding communities have still not been given an answer to their basic question: what tangible benefits will accrue to them if they allow Denver to develop land that that was put off-limits by IGA.
Meanwhile, Hancock and his aviation manager Kim Day departed on a $124,000 junket to Japan this week. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan was offered a spot on the mayor’s trip. He respectfully declined.