Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Highland Park - Shameful Neglect - Heads Up Councilman Rick Garcia

Highland Park is located in Northwest Denver at 32nd and Federal. The park consists only of about two square blocks and is anchored at the northeast corner by the Woodbury branch library. The park sits at the eastern edge of what is known as the West Highlands neighborhood. West Highlands was, I've read, originally--mid to late nineteenth century--populated with those who abhorred the evil, freewheeling vices of the City of Denver that sat down in the valley of the South Platte river, and east across that river where the lowlands kept council with the devil. The West Highlands neighborhood is, indeed, located upon a rise north and west of the core city of Denver. The neighborhood, from its earliest beginnings, eventually became the home to many, many Italian and Irish immigrants. Later--following a pattern that has been seen in most cities across the country--when the Italian and Irish moved out, the newer immigrants moved in (in this case mostly Hispanic). And--again following that pattern--the neighborhood declined significantly and then gradually became revitalized, as it is today, by the efforts of progressive, egalitarian, mostly young folk who transformed the neighborhood into a trendy, multi-cultural space where Victorian structures are cherished and lovingly restored; where curio and clothing shops, restaurants and coffee houses abound.

Jerome C. Smiley's folksy and utterly effusive, "History of Denver," notes that Highland Park was "new" park as of the writing of that substantial tome. The "History of Denver," was published in 1901. Therefore, I suspect the founding of Highland Park was quite near that publication date.

Sweet Melissa and I used to run the circumference of the Berkeley Park lake every morning. But, then, her hips began to deteriorate--she will be thirteen in September--and, for about a year now, we've replaced our morning run with walkies that eventually, almost daily, lead us to nearby Highland Park.

Let me show you the state of this tiny park's lawn.

And, highland Park's amenities... You'll note the elegant "restroom" facilities; the playground equipment and the basketball hoops that were not so long ago erected upon the ruins of what were once tennis courts.

Now, let me repeat a part of an earlier post with regard to Denver's Parks: "Barnes-Gelt also tells us that the manager of parks and recreation, Kim Bailey, is one of the diamonds in the Hickenlooper administration because she's reactivated five of Denver's water fountains. This, in Barnes-Gelt's mind, is a rejuvenation of Denver's City Beautiful legacy from the dawn of the twentieth

century. (These are not the fountains that provide you with a drink. These are the fountains you, um, watch.)I love those fountains. But, guess what. The infrastructure of all Denver's parks is in horrible shape. There is no money in the honey pot to improve those components of a public parks and recreation operation that provide, not prettiness, but usefulness to the citizens of Denver. I guess one's meditation might be enhanced by the sound and sight of a fountain in a park. But, truth is, fountains are one of the most costly, maintenance intense endeavors a municipality can undertake."

May I suspect that the tiny Highland Park's irrigation system is pretty much kaput? May I suspect that the immense amount of money Denver's Manager of Parks and Recreation, Kim Bailey, has authorized to get those lovely fountains working (ala "City Beautiful") could have been used to revitalize the Highland Park irrigation system? May I conclude this evocation of a bygone era where lovely spraying fountains defined a "beautiful" city has little worth, little credence when the basic infrastructure of the Denver park's system is for shit?

One other thing about Highland Park that disturbs me is this protective cover (for, I assume, an above ground irrigation gadget) on a concrete pad that was installed not very long ago. Now, when it was first installed it was level. Now, as you can see, we've sunk into the ground on the left side about an inch or inch and half. If a vendor provided this pad and cover, has Parks pulled their bond? Clearly the work was substandard. If Parks did this job themselves, then, well... What can I say.

Okay, finally... Hey, Councilman Garcia, good buddy, whadaya think? What's goin' on with Highland Park? Yeah, I know you've got your priorities. I know you've (with citizen input) come up with a "Master Plan" for Highland Park that is--and I know you would agree with me--a fairy tale on paper designed to please the masses (an opiate of the people) that will never, ever get off the ground until a general obligation bond issue is passed. But, hey, can't we just water the lawn in that tiny two square block park? Huh, can't we?

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