Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Observations on Colfax Rec Center‏

Message to: Jeff Green,
Public Relations Divison,
Denver Parks and Recreation

Thanks for asking for our (online survey) input on the Recreation Center on Colfax.

Would you please share copies of your research to date on demographics of the area where you intend to build the new rec center with City Park Friends and Neighbors (CPFAN)? That will help to illuminate the needs of the citizens and make for good planning.

I would like to suggest that you include services that will allow the many homeless families and children as well as the old and sick who inhabit Colfax Avenue neighborhoods, to take advantage of healthy opportunities at the new rec center. For example, showers and washing machines so they can clean up and not offend other people. Maybe the use of multi purpose rooms as day care center, shelters etc. Secure toilets that are open 24/7 would go a long way to alleviate the problem of poor, homeless people having to relieve themselves in public because there are no public facilities available. Santa Monica, CA managed to design and build secure, attractive toilets in the parks and other public places that went a long way to helping people maintain their human dignity while not offending the housed public. We need to look at the reality of our homeless population. Their numbers are not decreasing.

Just like the increasing numbers of Canadian Geese who, as a result of global warming, crowd our parks and make walking difficult due to the huge piles of goose poop, the number of homeless people is going to increase as a result of an unfair economy and tax structure. The goose poop and homeless problems are not going to go away until something is done about the underlying issues and we all know that it will be a cold day in hell before that happens. There are just too many of them, geese and homeless people, to try to hide the results of our own folly. So, we might as well take our heads out of the sand and deal with it. I am sure your research shows a growing number of homeless people around the rec center location.

By the way, I hope that Parks and Recreation isn't thinking about relocating the dog park that is now located on the land where the rec center is to be built, to historic City Park. A dog park is not an acceptable use of an underfunded, historic park that struggles to just maintain its rotting infrastructure and scale and original, lovely design. It (dog park) didn't work in Cheesman Park and it isn't right for City Park.

As a last thought, please, whatever you do, find an architect to design the rec center who has some sensitivity to its historic location. Something open and welcoming. Do not look to the people who designed the Museum of Nature and Science, who were inspired by the Soviet school of architecture, producing massive, unimaginative buildings that had absolutely no connection to their historic site. (DPR gifting them more precious park land to expand their blight was shocking.) And I would suggest that you also avoid the firm that designed the entry to the Botanic Gardens. The work looks more like the inmate visitor entrance to a federal penitentiary than anything to do with a lovely botanic garden. And run away from whoever designed the "back door" of the Zoo on the park. It has ruined that entire area of City Park. Institutional insensitivity at its worst. Just my opinion. Maybe the folks who designed Coors Field? It is a lovely structure that fits into its historic site.

We are so happy that some other deserving area of the city is going to benefit from all of the hard work you have put into City Loop. Contrary to what Lauri Danemiller might think, we in the neighborhoods adjoining City Park do care about health and fitness but we also realize that we have a responsibility to protect a beautiful, historic asset from the well meaning but misguided ideas of every politician who manages to make his way into office.

We need a thoughtful 100 year plan for City Park to protect it from political pressure and misguided, temporary fixes.

Warmest regards,

Bridget Eileen Walsh
Charter Member,
City Park Friends and Neighbors.


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