Denver Direct: INC Parks & Rec Proposal Poo Pooed

Friday, August 14, 2009

INC Parks & Rec Proposal Poo Pooed

From Larry Ambrose:
Outcome of PRAB Meeting: “Bill Boards in the Parks”

The City put forth Bill Airy’s plan last night at the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting, with one exception. Parks Department Manager, Kevin Patterson introduced the Poo Free plan and proudly announced that now it is possible for us, neighborhood groups and non-profits, to actually buy advertising just like the commercial folks! And our logo’s will be just below and bigger than the Poo Free Parks logo! Really!

Not good news folks. In an abysmal display of dereliction of public stewardship and accommodation to the most popular Mayor in Denver history, the PRAB voted overwhelming to approve the P and R Departments sweetheart deal with Poo Free Parks. Policies? Not to worry, said Chantel Unfug, the Mayor’s $100,000 per year + liaison to the Mayor’s appointee, Manager Patterson, (and elected representative to the Denver School Board from NE Denver).

Unfug said (and I paraphrase here), “We are working to change the policies by 2010 so that they are consistent with what we want to do now.”

Poo Free advertising a slippery slope?

Advisory Board member representing Peggy Lehman, attorney, Richard Ott, admonished the Parks Department staff not to let any more advertising into the parks. Strong stuff, aye? But Chris Nevitt’s representative, Ed Done came up with the winning solution. It’s not the advertising that’s the problem. The signs are just too big! But there was a motion on the floor put forth by Carla Madison’s guy, Keith Pryor, who insisted that the Board approve Poo Free Parks proposal precisely as Bill Airy’s contract was presented. The vote was taken and low and behold, they voted NOT to approve the deal 8 to 4.

But then architect Noel Copeland, (Rick Garcia) put forth the face saving compromise. What if we approve IF he makes the signs smaller than 12 x 18? How much smaller? No discussion about this “small” point. It was getting too late. I’m not sure of the vote count but I believe it was 10 to 2 (Elizabeth Kester and Flo Navarro against). So, now Mr. Airy can make his “Bill Boards” 11.75 x 17.75. Brilliant.

On positive notes, there were many thoughtful and civic minded people from around the city who presented wonderful and cogent testimony. Kathleen Rust was brilliant in describing everything in the parks eventually bedizened with ads. We must rally these folks and follow through with strategies to keep this scheme from being implemented. And, there’s always the likelihood that Mr. Airy will not be able to sell advertising to cost and public image conscious companies anyway. After all, do they want at least half the people in the city resenting them for intruding the commercials into their parks? Perhaps we can help “make this known” to these companies.

In a related matter, Mr. Airy didn’t even wait for the Advisory Board hearing to start advertising in the parks. He was seen putting these signs up throughout Sloan’s Lake Park and on public right-of-ways on Tuesday. Oh, yes he did use his Poo Free hybrid fuel efficient Prius with the City logo on it to put them up. And, he was even able to do it without any help from the homeless! See also here, and here.