Denver Direct: ANOTHER BLOW TO CITY PARK, DENVER
Monday, December 1, 2014
Apparently saturating the lawns and filling the lakes of our parks with toxic chemicals from Superfund Site Lowry Landfill is not enough. Now the Zoo wants to burn animal waste on site to produce power. Ed.note: Oh well, no matter, I gave up some time ago.
Letter to City Council regarding Zoo’s new Waste Disposal System.
This letter is provided for your information. It has not been adopted by the CPFAN Board of Directors but many of the directors have signed it as individuals.
December 1, 2014
Denver City Council
Dear Council Members:
We, the undersigned individuals, residents of City Park neighborhoods, write to express our concerns regarding the Denver Zoo’s animal waste reprocessing plant, and our dismay at its location inside City Park. We are responding to the announcement of your Infrastructure and Culture Committee meeting on Wednesday, December 3, at which you plan to discuss this issue.
You may wonder why we bother to write to you now. After all, the plant’s construction was completed two years ago, the Zoo has received kudos and awards for their forward-thinking and energy-conscious design, Walmart has donated $1.2M worth of micro-turbine generators. What’s left to say? What’s not to like?
While we commend the Zoo’s determination to cut energy costs by burning animal waste products, the location of this plant appears to us to indicate a complete lack of regard by the Denver Zoo and the City Administration (Denver Parks & Recreation) for the formerly pastoral park that houses the Zoo and for the people who use it to unwind from the pressures of city living or to get a small taste of being at peace in a verdant landscape. Had the Zoo placed their industrial facility within the interior of the Zoo or along their 23rd Avenue border, which has nothing but fences, gates, and parking, then its impact would have been contained to the Zoo.
To our knowledge none of the RNOs and neighborhood groups who received notice of this project were told the gigantic machine to convert fuel to energy, along with its buildings and gate, would be fronting City Park Road, just yards away and very visible from:
the historic City Park Pavilion and Band Shell
the Duck Pond where children gather to watch the birds
the Rose Garden where weddings and other events take place
the Historic Burns Garden where different groups meet to celebrate Robert Burns and his poetry and hold other events
Whereas the revamped Denver Zoning Code, enacted in 2010, sought to simplify and re-categorize private and City land in ways that would streamline their management and development, an unintended – or perhaps intended – major consequence is that, with the removal of City Council from the process, representation of the voices of Denver citizens has been summarily excised from any kind of substantive input on the use of City properties, such as this.
The “new and improved” zoning code, coupled with the City’s 1998 Agreement with the Zoo, enables the Manager of Parks and Recreation to wield total control over land use in City Park. The wisdom of the citizens is never sought, their preferences and reasoning are not considered, and we are ignored through opaque “public” processes whereby City Council committees rubber-stamp their approvals of any project or policy promulgated by the City Administration.
So when the City undertakes projects truly harmful to the greater public good, Denver citizens are left with announcements of faits accomplis, such as this week’s committee hearing on the Zoo’s proposal to burn waste products to generate energy. Such a procedure guarantees that concerned citizens will rally to object strenuously. That which you assumed to be simple and efficient is in actuality autocratic.
When power generation operations inevitably begin in the Zoo’s City Park industrial plant, will the animal waste mulching machine produce loud noise in these areas of parkland used extensively by park-goers? Will there be a stench, created by the stored excrement or its processing, that wafts into the park? The sight of the gigantic machine is visible throughout the north-central part of the park. Anyone walking along Ferril Lake’s shore sees it, even sitting on benches across the lake. The Zoo took care to shield their visitors from this industrial section of their facility, inflicting it instead on people using City Park.
|Back of Denver Zoo as seen from Ferril Lake walk in City Park|
And the Zoo has made no effort to soften or shield the view of the complex–with its huge, ugly machine, hardscape industrial setting, and prison-style gate–through setbacks, vines or other plantings, attractive screens, or other means.
We’ve included some photos for those of you who aren’t familiar with the view presented by the Zoo’s industrial complex, which City Park visitors can’t avoid. As you look at them, ask yourself if you’d include these images in a City Park brochure.
Georgia Garnsey has offered to take anyone interested on a tour of this once-beautiful part of our historic City Park. We encourage every member of City Council to accept Georgia’s offer, and thereby experience what has been done to City Park, before you cast your vote to approve the commencement of electric power generation by the Zoo. It’s the least effort you can make to give respect to the “Crown Jewel of the Queen City.”
Hank Bootz, Park Hill
Linda Drake, Park Hill
Dave Felice, Park Hill
Nancy Francis, City Park West
Georgia Garnsey, Park Hill
JD MacFarlane, Park Hill
Tom Korson, Park Hill
Tom Morris, South City Park
Lamone Noles, Park Hill
Louis Plachowski, Park Hill
Bridget Walsh, Park Hill
cc: Shannon Block, CEO, Denver Zoo
Mayor Michael Hancock
Lauri Dannemiller, Executive Director, Denver Parks & Recreation
Jon Murray, Denver Post
Joe Vaccarelli, Denver Post
Alan Prendergast, Westword
Charles Bonniwell, Glendale/Cherry Creek Chronicle
Editor, Life on Capitol Hill
City Park Friends and Neighbors
South City Park Neighborhood Association
Whittier Neighborhood Association
Greater Park Hill Community
North City Park Civic Association
Congress Park Neighbors
Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC) and INC Parks and Recreation Committee
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