Opinion by Gerald Trumbule
|ARTS methadone dispensary at 6:15 this morning. |
The parking lot lights are either turned off or burned out. Not safe.
Despite the statement by the dispensary director, Angela Bonaguidi, that "I know there is talk regarding retaining legal representation to “get [us] out”. I hope that we can cooperate in our efforts to improve the local community, as the services we provide are to help. We aspire to be long-standing (and good) neighbors.", she did not answer my email inquiry as to the exact name of the organization that runs the dispensary. In her emails she identifies herself as Angela Bonaguidi, LCSW, LAC, Director of Adult Outpatient, Addiction Research and Treatment Services (ARTS), University of Colorado at Denver, School of Medicine, but because the University of Colorado has many, many "non-profit" operations under its umbrella, it is difficult to identify the exact name and EIN of the corporation that runs this operation. Since she has ignored my request to provide this information, I have instituted a CORA request, as yet unanswered, to discover it.
But my point is this: While I may own one lot in this neighborhood, it is not MY neighborhood, as I have no control over what may happen here. And my elected representative also seems to have no control over it. Perhaps it's the Mayor?
Turning now to "our" parks, here is an email exchange between Tom Morris, long-time community activist, and Jeanne Robb, City Councilwoman from District 10:
From: Tom Morris
Subject: Re: INC PARC and its letter regarding Zoo gasification
Date: December 5, 2014 at 9:28:07 PM MST
To: "Robb, Jeanne - City Council Dist. #10"
The zoo butt stands as a symbol of the changes you approved in 2010 which remove citizens from any influence on our park. I said it was a mistake then. It is still a mistake which churns up dissent by the roomful in every corner of the city. The recent record attached to your abandonment of citizens has produced a series of loud disputes about our parks. You are a member of council and according to the Charter you are in charge of land use issues in this city. Ceding those responsibilities to the strongest mayor in this country is an example of what you’ve done over the past 12 years.
No city has ever been improved by top-down un-reviewed decisions by isolated officials. Great cities are loved by their residents and survive through Hell and high water because their people feel a sense of inclusion. Exclusion of citizens produces the kind of anger which we have been advised upsets the establishment. Since we can’t afford the kind of money it takes to talk to you calmly, and since the city continues to slap us across our faces with obscene concerts, park damaging events, converting the park to a parking lot for Zoo free days, ceding land to the Zoo without public notice, constructing a 60,000 square foot addition to the Museum with no parking studies, regionalizing our park without public, consultation and proposing an unsafe playground with no parking studies, maintenance costs or thoughtful design, I don’t personally care if the city is put off by our justifiable anger.
If we are denied a role in city government, at what level of government do we count for anything but votes. Voting is not enough to love a city.
When Council dodges parks it dodges us.
On Dec 5, 2014, at 8:12 PM, Robb, Jeanne - City Council Dist. #10 <Jeanne.Robb@denvergov.org> wrote:
(Recent comments about the appearance of the south side of the Zoo) are valid, and the zoo should do a better job of addressing its face to the park. Your arguments about appearance and construction under the 2007 bond are appropriate. Councilwoman Susman was not in office in 2007 and City Park was not a part of the district I represent ( that's not an exoneration of my responsibility for public outreach but until this week I was unaware that the appropriate outreach for the Elephant Passage was inadequate. But then again, had I represented the district, I could better evaluate the outreach effort. At the time Cwn Carla Madison, Cwn Marcia Johnson and at-large rep Carol Boigon lived in neighborhoods close by.We are now talking about something within, not outside, an existing structure. It's frustrating. We need to figure out how to make the southern view of the zoo much more pleasing from the south. I am 100% behind that point! I don't think Councilman Brooks and Councilman Susman disagree There are many opportunities with the fence/wall.But testimony at committee did indicate that INC really didn't have adequate consideration at their Parc committee meeting,; their minutes don't seem to indicate that. Further the minutes indicate that the issue would go to the full assembly in November, but nothing indicates whether it did or didn't and there are no available minutes of general meetings that I could find on the INC website. Council has to rely on public input and public postings, just as neighborhoods have to rely on the city website.Can we all do a better job? Obviously, we can always do better. I pledge to work with you all and the zoo for an improved southern exposure.As to the historic designation, I know there may be some concerns about the period of significance that would be determined. Park uses and structures change. I do support design review for parks, which I tried to provide thru my 2010 ordinance about park buildings.
Further clarification (received just after the above was posted.)
The INC Parks and Recreation Committee (INC PARC) through its Co-chairs, does, from time to time, take the initiative to send letters of support or opposition to City officials consistent with positions which INC has officially approved by vote of its RNO delegates at its monthly organization meetings This is done consistently, to let the appropriate decision makers and those officials directly effected know of the position or opinion INC advocates. Absent prior approved positions, INC committees submit such recommendations for support or opposition to the delegation.
In the instance of the Zoo Gasification Plant, a short presentation was made by a Park and Recreation Department representative at the INC PARC meeting on August 20, 2013. The focus of the presentation was on the merits of gasification process. Questions were raised by the committee the answers to which did not, at the time, raise the concerns of the Committee.
Two months later, Committee Co-chair Katie Fisher reported that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board had a favorable opinion of the project and asked, based upon the information presented in August, if the Committee wished to support it. A vote was taken to support the "gasification process" . In order to send a letter of support to City officials, a vote to such effect, it would have been necessary obtain approval from the delegation. After further consideration, no motion of support or resolution was brought forward to the INC Delegation because the Committee Co-chairs believed it lacked information to ask for such approval. No letter of support was sent to City officials from the Committee or from INC.
Any perceived approval of this project was gleaned from the minutes of INC PARC meetings and that preliminary approval was only in respect to the concept of waste gasification, and in no way should have been used by City Council to imply that main body of INC either knew about the design, scale or orientation or approval of the gasification plant itself. The issue of the plant being an eyesore and a detriment to City Park is what is in contention here and INC PARC's sincere, hard and civic work in the interests of its RNO members and the City of Denver, should not be used to divert attention from this apparent fact.
For future reference INC committee meeting notes and monthly Delegate Meeting minutes are published monthly in its newsletter and stored in electronic format on the INC website, www.denverinc.org. They can be found under the tab News and are called Newsletter. The newsletters are indexed by Year and month and go back to 2006.
Katie Fisher and Maggie Price
INC PARC Co-Chairs
From the INC PARC Minutes
August 20, 2013
The Zoo presentation was a description of the planned Gasification Process to be installed at the zoo, to convert waste into energy. When operational, it is expected to save $150,000/year, provide 20% of the zoo’s energy needs, and keep 90% of its waste out of the landfill. Now working with the city and health agencies, the finished project will meet stringent standards. This $50 million dollar project is to be funded by bond issue and private donations. PARC asked about space consumed, noise and odor issues, affect on the zoo animals.
October 15, 2013
Katie reported PRAB (Parks and Recreation Advisory Board) items including consideration of the Denver Zoo Gasification Process, which was presented to PARC in August. This is a positive move and Katie asked if PARC wished to support it with a formal vote. Maggie moved that INC PARC gives favorable support to the Gasification Process at the Denver Zoo, seconded by Ray, passed unanimously. This action will go to INC general meeting Nov. 9.
From: Robb, Jeanne - City Council Dist. #10
To: Tom Korson
Cc: Nancy Francis
Sent: Fri, Dec 5, 2014 8:12 pm
Subject: Re: INC PARC and its letter regarding Zoo gasification
Your comments are valid, and the zoo should do a better job of addressing its face to the park. Your arguments about appearance and construction under the 2007 bond are appropriate. Councilwoman Susman was not in office in 2007 and City Park was not a part of the district I represent ( that's not an exoneration of my responsibility for public outreach but until this week I was unaware that the appropriate outreach for the Elephant Passage was inadequate. But then again, had I represented the district, I could better evaluate the outreach effort. At the time Cwn Carla Madison, Cwn Marcia Johnson and at-large rep Carol Boigon lived in neighborhoods close by.
We are now talking about something withi, not outside, an existing structure. It's frustrating. We need to figure out how to make the southern view of the zoo much more pleasing from the south. I am 100% behind that point! I don't think Councilman Brooks and Councilman Susman disagree There are many opportunities with the fence/wall.
But testimony at committee did indicate that INC really didn't have adequate consideration at their Parc committee meeting,; their minutes don't seem to indicate that. Further the minutes indicate that the issue would go to the full assembly in November, but nothing indicates whether it did or didn't and there are no available minutes of general meetings that I could find on the INC website. Council has to rely on public input and public postings, just as neighborhoods have to rely on the city website.
Can we all do a better job? Obviously, we can always do better. I pledge to work with you all and the zoo for an improved southern exposure.
As to the historic designation, I know there may be some concerns about the period of significance that would be determined. Park uses and structures change. I do support design review for parks, which I tried to provide thru my 2010 ordinance about park buildings.
Sent from my iPad
On Dec 5, 2014, at 7:07 PM, "Tom Korson"
MB, I agree wholeheartedly with Nancy Francis’ assessment. While my personal interest in City Park these days involves my love of riding my bicycle through and around the park, we must consider the many people who walk, run, fish, do tai chi, and otherwise enjoy the sense of quiet and peace, away from the busy avenues, streets, and boulevard which surround the Park. It is those values which inspired those of us in the Stop City Loop movement to protest the City Loop plan. City Park Friends and Neighbors, which now includes 300 members, and growing, is dedicated to protecting the pastoral aspects of the park. Since you represent me, it is my earnest hope that you will give full and serious consideration to Nancy’s comments.
On Dec 5, 2014, at 5:59 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Dear Council Member Susman,
Bridget Walsh forwarded your message, below, to me, and I was present during the Committee hearing on Wednesday, December 3. Certainly you do not intend to imply that responsibility for assessing community support for approval of the Zoo's Certificate of Operation of the gasification facility falls on the activities of a single, mostly obscure, committee from a single citizen group–specifically the INC PARC committee–rather than on you and your colleagues who have been elected to represent the citizens of Denver and are paid to do so as a full time job?
Control of the disposition of City Park with respect to the Zoo is under the sole control of the Manager of Parks and Recreation. I wrote to Parks and Recreation in March, 2013, with concerns about the Zoo's construction and the ceding of land to the Zoo from City Park. The Manager replied that she has power to do what she wishes without undertaking a public process, which she did not elect to do concerning the Zoo's construction project. (Your colleagues Brooks, Kniech, and Ortega were included in those communications; I have the relevant emails in my files and I will be glad to forward them to you if you'd like. You can also read about this at Denver Zoo Expands at Parks Manager’s Discretion.) In February, 2014, Georgia Garnsey wrote to the Zoo (on paper, sent via USPS) about the industrial area, including photos. She did not receive even the courtesy of an acknowledgment to her letter. So the path to a solution here travels through both the Zoo and Denver Parks and Recreation opening a dialog with the public about City Park. If you want to scrutinize activities, I urge you to put your energy there.
Regarding the INC PARC co-chairs' comment that in the fall of 2013 people were focused on the Loop, I can speak to that directly. People who live in City Park neighborhoods were busy working on a campaign to prevent another affront to City Park. The Zoo's complex, as I hope you now understand, was already built. Its ugly presence wasn't going to be eradicated from the park, and we had given up on getting anyone to care about our concerns - the Manager of Parks and Recreation certainly didn't want our input on it. The Loop campaign was undertaken by unpaid volunteers with no budget and no staff, who did all of the work themselves. Believe me, many times I envied you elected, paid officials your access to staff and resources. So, to speak directly to the meeting on 10/15/13, Tom Morris, Hank Bootz, Dave Felice, and I made a conscious decision not to attend that meeting in favor of working on the Loop campaign.
I can assure you that INC PARC has accepted criticism for neglecting to delay their committee's vote in order to obtain further input from their fellow citizens on the Zoo issue. But, to be clear, the 2013 INC PARC discussions concerned support for the Zoo's goal of waste to energy conversion.
No citizens were ever asked about the process of constructing the complex, its placement, and the impact of both these on City Park: the construction process for over two years and the finished complex as a permanent alteration. All of the construction impact was imposed on City Park and the citizens who use it - all of the massive truck deliveries, the workers, whose roach coach came daily and who lined the banks of Ferril Lake on their breaks, the Pavilion parking lot used as a staging area, the road intrusions, and the mess - and none on the Zoo and its customers. And the Zoo left the entire area unchanged for nine months after the construction was complete - ugly paper waving from chain-link fences, dirt, temporary barricades and all - until, coincidentally, shortly after I sent my letter to Parks and Recreation in March, 2013. As one of the dedicated Parks career service workers remarked to me, "They treat the park as though it were nothing but an alley."
We are all eager to work with City Council, the Hancock Administration's Parks and Recreation department, and the Zoo & Museum, whenever you decide to include us in the process. I would be most grateful if you and your colleagues would direct your focus on implementing structural reforms to City ordinance that will force the inclusion of citizens of City Park neighborhoods, starting with the mitigation of the Zoo's defacement of City Park. You personally took the lead in support of this focus by attending the City Park Friends and Neighbors meeting on December 2. Let's build on that.
To remind you of what happens when parks can be changed without a public process, I've included another photo of the Zoo's plant, which my 16-year old son took last Saturday. Very sad.
View of Zoo's plant from Pavilion area (inside City Park, "the Alley" of the Zoo)
On Dec 3, 2014, at 4:13 PM, Bridget Walsh wrote:
Thank you for your input today and I know how much your group and all of us care for our City Park and the experience people bring to it.
I do have to take issue with your statement that council was “disingenuous.” I have the INC PARC meeting notes of August 20, 2013 wherein it says that “the zoo presentation was a description of the planned Gasification Process to be installed at the zoo to convert waste into energy.” It then goes on to describe the statistics about cost and savings that we heard today and finishes with “PARC asked about space consumed, noise and odor issues, affect on the zoo animals,” so obviously this INC committee were aware of what was being presented and weren’t confusing it with the Loop plan.
We further then have the INC PARC notes from their meeting of 10/15/13 wherein it states: “Maggie moved that INC PARC gives favorable support to the Gasification Process at the Denver ZOO, seconded by Ray, passed unanimously. (Italics mine) It is clear that the committee charged with looking into the Zoo request did so, asked pertinent questions and discussed it on at least two occasions and approved it unanimously. There is no mention of “unanswered questions,” etc.
I did read the letter from INC today. Was this a letter from a single person or did INC actually have a meeting to poll the group on a delay and to say they were focused on the Loop and (assuming from the note) weren’t paying attention to the zoo project. The letter states that PARC was focused on the Loop, but clearly from their actual minutes they weren’t confusing it with the Zoo waste project.
As I mentioned in committee I think it is important that the zoo talk with the neighbors about ideas to integrate the zoo with the park better, particularly on its south side and I heard from their representative today that they will do so, and will engage with you and others to discuss ideas about best ways to do that. I look forward to some fruitful discussions between the Zoo and City Park neighbors.