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From the week of September 19, 2002

Street Smarts

Crack in the sidewalk: While reading David Holthouse's "Between Rock and a Hard Place," in the September 5 issue, I involuntarily shuddered. Earlier this year, my partner and I were looking to purchase a home in that same neighborhood. Like Mary, we were tired of the boring, homogenized enclaves such as Lowry, Cherry Creek and the Ranch, places pale and uninspiring. Having lived in Uptown for years, we were used to a bit of "drama" now and then. We knew that Five Points is on the cusp of change and thought the diversity of both the people and the architecture would do us some good. Cruising through the various neighborhoods in and around Five Points, two cute white boys in a Ford Escort, we did feel the sting of suburban Caucasian angst...and the long, low stares of certain area "residents" didn't help matters. We fell in love with a few homes, only to have the relationships sour before they began.

We have since moved to a great neighborhood west of Federal, where diversity, respect and playing children are in full effect. I wish all the best to Mary and her neighbors; we wanted to be with you for the renaissance, girlfriend, but we just didn't have the stomach. Keep that hose in one hand and the phone in the other.

Mark Monroe
Denver

A fine point: On crackheads, sprinkler heads, skinheads and big fat cops: What kind of city do we live in when crack dealers and users blatantly operate in a neighborhood and the police do nothing, while someone watering his lawn on a non-watering day gets fined $100, $300 or $500 for a second, third or fourth "offense"?

I'm surprised Mary wasn't arrested for hosing down the crackheads on a non-watering day.

Perhaps if the crackheads were heavily tattooed skinheads, the police would do something? Better yet, Mary should open a doughnut shop, and then the police would have a vested interest in the neighborhood. Jesus!

John Sturtz
Denver

LoDo lowdown:I just finished David Holthouse's "Between Rock and a Hard Place," and my heart goes out to Mary, who is just trying to live a peaceful life in a not-so-peaceful neighborhood. But there is a bigger underlying problem here, and it has to do with money and politics and who will get help and who won't.

I have lived in Colorado all my life (forty years); I have also ridden motorcycles since I was eight. I cruised downtown in the '70s, and my father cruised downtown in the '50s. Every Friday and Saturday this summer, there has been a gathering of motorcyclists on Larimer Street, and LoDo residents have complained all summer about the noise coming from the motorcycles. I don't sympathize much with LoDo residents, because the inner-city noise has always been a part of downtown. To me, it's like people who move close to the airport and then complain the airplanes are too noisy. Some people might ask who are these motorcyclists on Larimer, and I can answer that some are accountants, city workers, state workers, self-employed, teachers, military personnel. They are all hardworking taxpayers. So now here comes the crackdown on motorcyclists by the mayor's office and the Denver Police Department; it even makes the 10 p.m. news on several channels. I rode down to LoDo on the first night of the parking restrictions -- no parking after 10 p.m. on Larimer -- and I was overwhelmed by the number of police that were in the area, many of them just circling the block waiting for 10 p.m. to strike so they could swoop down on us and start writing tickets and towing motorcycles. As I was standing on Larimer watching, I thought to myself, 'My God, how much overtime are they paying all these traffic cops and District 6 police officers? How much money did the city spend on all these parking signs?'"

So this is my point: There is a woman named Mary who lives on the 2700 block of Downing Street. There are crackheads walking up and down the block smoking their drugs. There are crack dealers parked in front of Mary's house dealing drugs. Some of the dealers have threatened Mary's life and even chased her up to her front door. I would guess the crime rate is very high in Mary's neighborhood and that Mary herself could be in danger.

I would also take a guess and say that none of the residents on Mary's block have an income that could match the income of the LoDo residents. I would also guess none of the residents in Mary's neighborhood have a lot of pull with the mayor's office. So the bottom line is that this comes down to the almighty dollar, and Mary probably won't have the police protection she deserves because of where she lives. You have to ask yourself:

1) Where are the real crimes being committed?

2) Who are really the criminals?

3) Whose lives are in danger?

4) Why does the city utilize more of its police force on parking violators than it does on crack dealers?

5) Why does Mary have to fear going outside of her house to water her lawn? Why can't she sit on her front porch in peace without seeing the parade of zombies walking up and down the street?

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