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May 2015 • Online Edition

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Letters To The Editor | Print |  E-mail

Bike Racers Threaten Overall Safety In Park

Dear Editor:

Thanks to The Profile for writing about the problems at Washington Park. Thanks also to the neighbors who took the time to write to the editor. Some of us who live near the park and use it on a regular basis know that present conditions cannot continue. Those who live near the park, and those who come from greater distance to use it, know that things have to change to keep the environment from becoming chaotic.

The Profile’s article as well as letters written to the editor highlighted problems such as insufficient sanitation, parking difficulties, drunkenness, disorderly and rude conduct, and, of course, the volleyball leagues. Surprisingly, the most serious problem impacting public safety – bike racers – wasn’t mentioned. We’ve seen numerous instances of speeding bikers almost colliding with other users. Seniors taking their walks, people exercising dogs, moms with baby carriages – all users are at risk from bikers refusing to reduce speed. It’s understandable that a biker training for a race doesn’t want to slow down, but it’s only a matter of time before we see a tragic accident. An average-size person with his bike – 220 pounds traveling at 20 mph – would have an impact force of about 86,000 foot pounds – enough kinetic energy to cause serious injury, or death.

Besides anxieties about overcrowding, sanitation, rude and dangerous conduct, etc., residents have questions about the spending of $350,000 for relocation and refurbishing of the running path. Since funding does not appear to be a problem, perhaps more should be done to promote a safe, orderly park environment, including a full-time park ranger. Lauri Dannemiller, the new Parks and Rec. manager should be given time to meet with stakeholders – local residents, sports participants, runners, bikers, walkers, etc., to develop comprehensive strategies for compatible use of the valuable community asset, Washington Park.

Walter Heidenfelder

Too Much Smoke; Not Enough Action!

Dear Editor,

We are a number of East Washington Park residents who are dramatically impacted by the wood fire smoke emitted by the pizza ovens at Il Vicino on South Gaylord Street.  We have been promised by the owner several times that he will address the issue, but have seen no action to date.

The smoke permeates the air at all times of the day and evening, not only at start-up as we were assured.  Neighborhood windows remain closed, backyard usage is limited, clothes and furniture smell like smoke and our eyes burn and water due to the smoke irritation. And we are worried about the health impact of breathing smoke on a regular basis.

We have addressed our concerns to the owner, 311 at the city and anyone who will listen. Again, no action. The owner seems willing to pay the citation rather than address abatement.

It is indeed ironic that residents of the neighborhood and city cannot burn their fireplaces many times of the year, yet a commercial owner can add particulates and black smoke to the air at any time of the year, any time of the day with no significant consequence. 

We are frustrated, feel unheard and disrespected. We want to support the South Gaylord merchants to be successful, but how about supporting the neighborhood residents? We ask the City and the owner of Il Vicino to respond publicly.

Smoked out in East Washington Park,

Maureen Hanrahan and Peter Bonaker
Renee Krause
Bruce Broaddus and Mark Pippin
Jane Lawnhurst
Carol and Bill Mrzlikar
Gail Feeney-Coyle and Pat Coyle

Il Vicino Owner Responds To Profile

(Editor’s note: the following is in response to a query by Profile publisher Paul Kashmann.)


Yes, they have contacted us. We are looking into every option to help remedy the situation.

We have called the manufacturer and they will be getting back to us with possible options.

In 20 years and many different neighborhood situations using these wood-fired ovens, we have never had a problem with this issue.

The oven burns at 750 degrees, so there is very little smoke, except when the fire is first lit in the morning. Depending on the wind direction, there are times when you can smell the fire, similar to a fireplace in a home.

No doubt, this is an issue and we will do everything we can to remedy it.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Richard Post

Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza

Alcohol At Root Of Wash Park Woes

Dear Editor:

I moved away from Washington Park a little over a year ago, after having spent 54 years enjoying all that the park had to offer, from ice skating and swimming in Smith Lake, to Huck Finn Day, Show Wagon and checking out books at the Eugene Field library. Yes, that little house at Exposition was our library. So many good memories growing up there and taking my own children to the park. I have photos of me as a child and my two kids in the flower gardens. I’m trying to hold on to those memories and forget what has happened to the park over the past several years.

The park system in Denver was planned as free public open spaces, where the public could picnic, take long walks and view the wildlife. City Park introduced squirrels and other wildlife to the park for the public’s enjoyment. Now the wildlife are seen as nuisances and in many cases abused by park users who see the park for their skating, volleyball games and cycling as their own personal training grounds. I have watched the cyclists timing their runs around the loop and refusing to slow down for goslings walking across the road, for an elderly couple trying to take a walk. I have tried to cross the inside roadway and needed a traffic light to do so safely. Even during the influx of drug sales in the ‘70s, it was a much safer and quieter park than it is today.

I attended a meeting a year ago with staff of Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR) and brought up the subject of volleyball games and alcohol use in the park. My comments were met with smug derision; I had touched the third rail of politics, apparently. Alcohol use in the park used to be illegal. Of course a few tried to sneak it into the park and there were officers there to ticket those few people. Alcohol is not allowed on our nation’s beaches because of the danger and potential disturbances it would cause. Well???? If alcohol was once again illegal, the crowds would simply go away.

When I served on the (Washington Park) Master Plan committee I suggested putting in speed bumps on the loop road to slow down the Lance Armstrong wannabes, others suggested large flowerpots placed at various intervals. Nothing of any significance was done about the speeders.

The powers that be in DPR are selling our parks, issuing permits for every part of the park. Picnic areas used to be first- come, first-served. If we wanted something to eat while in the park, we brought our own food. Want to get married in the park? Find a spot and do it.

The problems started when WP was designated a regional park and alcohol use was allowed. That was the beginning of the end for what was once a local park, used by the surrounding residents. I feel sorry for the people living across from the park; they pay higher property taxes for the “privilege” of living across the street from the park. No longer a privilege, property values will start to plummet and with it, revenues to the city through property taxes.

The parks in Denver are now being run by people who know nothing about the history of the park or its many historic features, nor do they care. They are catering to the whims of a select demographic, their own demographic, the 30-somethings.

Now that DPR has agreed to pay for off-duty officers to patrol the park, guess what comes next? I said it a year ago, the next thing that will happen is the public will be charged to park their cars in what was meant to be a free public place. Parking meters in the park. Get your wallets out if you plan to visit WP Amusement Park.

Linda Neely

Past board member FANS

(Friends and Neighbors of Washington Park) and Wild Bird Information & Rehabilitation of Denver

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