Denver Direct: Denver Mayor’s Done Deal

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Denver Mayor’s Done Deal

The City of Denver and Denver Public Schools “park-land-for-a-building swap with a new school thrown in” would appear to be a done deal. At least the proposed occupant of the building seems to think so. From the Rose A. Andom Center website:

We have a home…
A building at 1330 Fox Street has been secured by the City of Denver for The Center.The Center has a long-term lease for use of the building and will be responsible for raising all renovation funds and reimbursing the City for ongoing occupancy costs.

Preliminary plans on the park land and school have been done:

Citizens are still concerned:

Dear Members of the Denver Parks & Rec Advisory Board,
I am forwarding below an email I have sent to Mayor Hancock’s office.  I have also forwarded this to my State and US politician’s offices, Denver City Council, other local groups, and social media outlets.  I am thoroughly disgusted with the latest attempt to push through an agenda without using appropriate channels and notifications.  This seems underhanded and completely at odds to the democratic process.  It smacks of the Wal-Mart and Colorado Blvd issue all over again and I will not stand by and watch the Mayor or anyone else who may support this “deal” to rid Denver of more open space.  I will be fighting to prevent this from moving forward.
Sarabeth Bjorndahl
Dear Mayor Hancock,
Regarding Paul Hentzell Parklands: I am writing to protest both your handling of this issue and the issue itself.  First, not bringing this to the attention of Denver-wide residents is poor business/politics at best. As a user of Denver Parks and a longtime resident of this city I would expect that an issue of this importance would be presented as such.  I’m disgusted that you would consider robbing Denver of more of her open parks when there are few enough to begin with.  But to do so with the level of subterfuge that seems to be accompanying this process disgusts me more. You were elected to represent this city and not a few selected interests.  Be assured that I am doing all that I can to bring this to the attention of those who will be as concerned as myself.  I have contacted the major news carriers, politicians and will begin a social media campaign as well.

I value Hentzell Park and am appalled at this proposed diminution of the park.
I am also concerned about the inadequate public notification which suggests DPR’s – yes – contempt for the public, the process, and nature. This was an attempted end run and I resent it.
The park is important to me – but regardless of me – the park is important relatively-natural habitat of which there is very little left in Denver. We humans are not entitled to crowd out all of nature from this planet – and that starts right here at home in Denver, at this site. This is a value – consistent with the City’s expressed interest in “sustainability” (about which it, by the way, is holding public meetings right now, though hypocritically, perhaps) – that I expect DPR and the City to respect and promote.
Even if none of us ever visited Hentzell Park, it would still warrant preservation. But far from never visiting it, I know it well. I have bicycled to it hundreds of times and have even hiked there – from central Denver – twice. I think this qualifies me as a sufficiently interested party – even though I don’t live next to the park. That there was not broad public notification is outrageous – and a further affront beyond this proposal being so intrinsically bad – so anti-sustainable – it never should have been conceived in the first place.
Hentzell Park has been the scene of many special natural encounters for me – encounters that contribute to making living in Denver special –  including getting off my bike many, many times to get down on the ground to smell the wonderful sweet fragrance of the white sand verbena.
It is also the site earlier this year – on one of those hikes – where I observed a kingfisher catch a fish in Cherry Creek. And, tragically, it represents one of the last prairie dog sites, and feeding grounds for hawks, which I have also enjoyed watching there. But again: this is not about me. It is about the very little remaining natural habitat left in Denver, habitat we have a responsibility to preserve.
Gerry Todd 

 Is the Mayor merely exercising his considerable power or is he overstepping his limits? It looks like a done deal no matter who complains. Any opinion from City Council members?