Sunday, August 06, 2006

EXTRA! North Denver Tribune Removes George From Its Subscription List!

I, of course, asked for it. I dared to bring up some salient points in an emailed letter to the Tribune's managing editor, Elisa Cohen, with regard to the city's failure to provide for the proper infrastructure maintenance of Denver's Parks. Ms. Cohen took umbrage with my remarks that, by the way, actually, in my opinion, pointed out her lack of reportorial skills. HOW COULD I DO SUCH A THING! HOW DARE I DO SUCH A THING!

The picture of the beautiful welcome sign to Highland Park will become relevant as you continue. (If you do continue. I had a comment on one of my posts not too long ago that I ought to stop worrying about the parks; that I ought to just chill at the seal pond in Civic Center Park. Um, yup, now THAT would be chillin'. Denverites will know what I mean.)

Anyway, here's my letter:

Elisa Cohen’s, “Is the grass greener?” which appeared in the August 3rd edition of the Tribune recounts her “investigative” efforts to determine if Sloan’s Lake Park’s perceived grass/lawn/flower deficiencies are the result of some bureaucratic bias which favor—specifically, in Cohen’s piece—Washington Park. The conclusion? With the help of middle management Denver Parks' personnel, Cohen concluded that God is pretty much in His heaven and all is right and equal with the care of maintenance of Denver’s 5,500 acres of parks.

What bothers me most about Cohen’s piece is, I hope, obvious. To make the conclusions she made and to accept the relatively rosy rhetoric from the Parks folks by comparing two parks, Sloan’s and Washington, is akin to determining one can get a pretty good handle on Christianity by contrasting Catholicism to Methodism. (Spend a Good News Sunday over at New Hope Baptist and you’ll see what I mean.)

The problem with Denver’s parks is, of course, the infrastructure. The problem with the grass in Denver’s parks is pumps and pipes and sprinkler heads and crews to maintain them. This issue is endemic throughout Denver’s park system. Granted, a little less endemic in certain parts of town than others.

I was struck not long ago with the irony of an editorial in the Denver Post that heralded Denver’s Manager of Parks and Recreation, Kim Bailey, as a “diamond” of the Hickenlooper administration. Why? Well, according to the editorialist, Ms. Bailey has reactivated five of Denver’s water fountains (the one’s you sit and watch, not the ones from which you sip). The editorialist characterized this “accomplishment” as a rejuvenation of the City Beautiful movement…a legacy from Mayor Robert W. Speer’s administration.

The irony of the rejuvenation of fountains is that there is probably no more costly or maintenance intensive undertaking in any park, anywhere than that of a fountain. Fountains bleed resources. Yet, the grass doesn’t get watered, flowers don’t get planted, weeds infest with gleeful effusion, asphalt paths deteriorate, play areas fall into disrepair.

It would have been worthwhile if Ms. Cohen and the Parks folks had sauntered through Highland Park or Berkeley Park or Rocky Mountain Park, all of which are also in the Northwest Park District. It would have been interesting if Ms. Cohen had asked the Parks folks a few more cogent questions about what appears to be deliberate neglect of portions of each of the parks I’ve mentioned. (I’m not concerned about Sloan’s because, as Ms. Cohen reports, the Sloan’s neighbors are doing quite well in playing the role of squeaky wheel.) It would have been interesting if Ms. Cohen had asked the Parks folks if all that money spent on the rejuvenation of fountains might have been better spent, for example, on the replacement of the rocky, slumped, jagged, deteriorating path through Highland Park or, indeed, just the planting of one flowerbed.

Sloan’s Lake Park is a marvelous environment for people and critters. The pelicans alone, which grace the lake, are literally evidence of God’s good work. Unfortunately, the evidence of man’s neglect weighs heavy on other parks where the neighbor’s clout, the neighbor’s “…demands…” (as Ms. Cohen reports) are a wee less influential at City Hall.

Shamefully heartless, wasn't I.


bobette said...

My husband, who is a past resident of Platt Park, often have a heated debate of which is better: Wash park or Sloans. As a resident of Highlands I always strongly defent good old Sloans but in my heart of hearts, which I would never admit, I can't help but wonder if he is right. Where are the trees? Where is the shade? Why is there so much disparity. Great blog :-)

George said...

Thanks, Bobette. Yes, Wash Park reigns supreme (as well as City Park) in the tree, flower department. Sloan's is, indeed, sparse on trees. I noticed a while back that they put in a little flower bed at the Northeast corner of Sloan's. But, alas, my little Highland Park, Berkeley Park and Rocky Mountain Park still seem to suffer the most neglect from the city. Interestingly, it's estimated that the repair/maintenance of Denver's park infrastructure is approaching $1Billion.