Letter to the editor: Timnath residents outline opposition to Topgolf

To the editor:

As Timnath citizens, we strongly oppose construction of a Topgolf facility in our community. The Topgolf facility located at the intersection of Interstate 25 and E-470 in Thornton is a blight to the landscape, visible day and night from miles away, adding extraordinary light pollution to the nighttime sky. It is unimaginable that the Timnath Town Council would permit construction of a Topgolf facility, which would serve only a small fraction of our residents but would remain a scourge on our landscape for decades. 

Topgolf facilities in Thornton and Centennial have hours extending from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight Sunday-Thursday and until midnight or 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A Topgolf facility in Timnath with similar hours would add unwanted light pollution to our nighttime skies, affecting sensitive bird populations nesting nearby and migrating through our region. The Cache la Poudre River, one of only 55 National Heritage Areas in the U.S., is within a few hundred yards of the proposed Topgolf location and is an important migration route for millions of birds migrating through Colorado each spring and fall. 

An Oct. 22, 2022, article in the Denver Post, titled “Bird populations are dropping. Colorado birders help connect dots to figure out why,” interviewed Dr. Jacob Job of CSU, associate director of the Bird Genoscape Project, who pointed out that one reason for decreasing bird populations is light pollution: “Light pollution is an obstacle because birds migrate mostly at night,” Job said. “The light can disorient them, leading them to smash into buildings.” A Topgolf facility in Timnath, with its glaring lights shining directly toward the Poudre River and its 160-foot-high netting, would provide ideal conditions for entrapping and killing local and migrating birds.

Topgolf is not the type of business Timnath needs. In May 2022, the Dallas Morning News published the article “Topgolf settles nationwide class-action suit alleging practice of paying below minimum wage.” The article states “Topgolf took advantage of a provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that allows employers to pay a worker $2.13 per hour — below minimum wage — if they’re receiving tips, the suit said. The suit alleges that Topgolf didn’t tell employees they were working for tips, required them to give a portion of their tips to other workers ineligible for tips, required them to purchase specific clothes and deducted the cost from the worker’s pay and required employees to regularly perform a substantial amount of time performing nontipped work, including cleaning. [Topgolf] managers at the restaurants were eligible to receive bonuses, in part, based on meeting or exceeding certain labor cost targets, which created an incentive to keep the amount paid to tipped employees low,” according to the complaint. 

In a separate lawsuit “triggered by FLSA violations found at a Topgolf venue in Virginia … the U.S. Department of Labor forced Topgolf to pay out $750,000 to more than 250 workers who its investigation found were wrongly denied overtime.”

Topgolf has a history of ignoring or abetting sexual harassment and sexual predation. A report called “Stopgolf” based on pleadings from 12 legal cases against Topgolf, and surveys, polls, and interviews with 72 workers from 28 Topgolf locations in 15 states in 2021 found “All Topgolf workers we spoke with described a culture of toxic masculinity, unprofessionalism, and boundary crossing.”

“While working at Topgolf:

  • 54% of all respondents reported being sexually harassed. 
  • 63% of women and nonbinary reported being sexually harassed and/or assaulted.
  • 100% of Black, Indigenous, and/or Latinx/Hispanic women under 50 years of age reported being sexually harassed. 
  • 27% of all survey respondents reported being sexually assaulted.
  • 33% of women and non-binary workers under 50 years of age reported being sexually assaulted. 
  • 50% of women of color under 50 years of age were sexually assaulted.”

Another article, “New lawsuit accuses Topgolf of covering up for ‘serial sexual predator’ in ‘dehumanizing, toxic work environment,’” details lawsuits brought by four former Topgolf employees who described sexual abuse at a Topgolf facility and the extent to which upper-level Topgolf staff tried to cover up the predatory practices of the employees’ supervisor.

These environmental issues and business practices demonstrate that Topgolf is not a desirable or suitable business for Timnath, and we strongly oppose its construction.

Edward Hendrick

Jean Paquelet


Source: BizWest

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