Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Parks are for people, not profit (continued)

from Tom Morris:

Mayor Hickenlooper wants to rent out our parks. Those who oppose this plan contend that renting out our parks is a violation of the City Charter. The Charters says that the city may not sell, lease or rent any park or portion of a park without a vote of the people.
The mayor has no doubt told his city attorney to find a way to ignore this section of the Charter. They do it with words. They’ve changed the name of what is illegal and, because they’ve come up with these new words, the Hickenlooper administration proceeds undeterred.
In point of fact the Charter doesn’t ban renting our parks. It doesn’t, however, leave the decision up to the mayor. It says that you can rent our parks if the people of Denver approve it.
John Hickenlooper doesn’t trust his constituents. And, as in all relationships, I urge his constituents to assume the reflective position and not trust the mayor.
There is no reason to believe that renting out our parks is a harmless action. His first subdivision of a park will be City Park, if the mayor gets his way. He will rent out the large meadow west of the Museum of Nature for movies. Once established, this policy will extend to all city parks.
The large meadow is recognized by television networks, postcard producers, tour guides and the city itself as an iconic view of Denver. The city has protected the view with a view plane ordinance which prevents thoughtless greedy developers like John Hickenlooper and other pirates of real estate from blocking the view.
During the replanning of City Park, historic preservationists suggested recreating two paths which once extended from the rose garden to the big lake through the big meadow. The stake holders involved in the planning process objected, pointing out that the meadow is the largest expanse of green grass with a classic view anywhere in the city. The plan preserves this meadow as a part of the iconic view.
But John Hickenlooper is going to allow a movie company to construct a bank of bleachers, a 30 foot tall movie screen, probably an advertising fence to keep out non-payers and banks of portable toilets and trash dumpsters in the big meadow for almost two months at the height of the tourist season for every summer for years to come.
It is for this reason that I urge all Denver voters to support Hickenlooper's bid to quit his job and vote for him as governor.

Reply from Councilwoman Madison:

Hi Tom,
I understand that you are clearly against Open Air and any other admission based events. You have worked for decades preserving the green space of City Park for passive purposes (and some active uses, like City Park Jazz) and so I in no way expect you to see things differently but I do want to address a couple of things.
Below is the language from the charter:
§ 2.4.5 Sale and leasing of parks.
Without the approval of a majority of those registered electors voting in an election held by the City and County of Denver, no park or portion of any park belonging to the City as of December 31, 1955, shall be sold or leased at any time, and no land acquired by the City after December 31, 1955, that is designated a park by ordinance shall be sold or leased at any time, provided, however, that property in parks may be leased for park purposes to concessionaires, to charitable or nonprofit organizations, or to governmental jurisdictions. All such leases shall require the approval of Council as provided for in Article III of this Charter. No land acquired by the City after December 31, 1955, shall be deemed a park unless specifically designated a park by ordinance.
The underlined part was added by the voters in 1996 and completely eliminated the original charter prohibition on parks leasing, allowed leasing of park lands with voter approval in some situations, and allowed leasing of park lands with City Council approval in other situations. The charter empowers the City Council to approve or disapprove any “leasing” of city-owed real property, park land or otherwise, in excess of 30 days.
Also, Open Air will not be occupying the open meadow in front of the DMNS. They will be located off to the south, out of the view plane. Still visible, certainly, but not blocking the view. This is a contract for 2 years and the liquor license will have a new hearing every year. The neighbors will, through this mechanism, always have a say so in whether this event happens and/or continues as well as the contract will have to go up before council again if it is to continue beyond 2012.
Thank you,
Carla Madison 
City Councilwoman District 8
303-587-6543 cell
303-298-7641 office
2713 Welton Street, 80205


  1. Denver has a terrible problem with reading comprehension. The relevant section of the Charter so helpfully provided by Ms. Madison states that "property in parks may be leased for park purposes". The meaning of the phrase "park purposes" may be open to interpretation, but no one in their right mind would suggest that it means that the City can lease public parks for the purpose of generating revenue. Too bad to read that and come up with the twisted interpretation she provides. It's probably more of David Broadwell's bad legal advice.

  2. Anonymous10:21 AM

    Hey Carla-
    You should disclose why your so invested in this- isn't your hubby gonna benefit financial through this proposal, being that he's an event planner?