Dollars and Nonsense

For sale: one silly sign ordinance.

But even before Denver Water's announcement Monday night that some restrictions -- a very few -- might be lifted, the city's forester had gone ahead and ordered new trees planted all along Auraria Parkway. The beautification project came just before another big meeting hit town -- this week's U.S. Conference of Mayors -- and without any advance warning to Frew.

"It was a very targeted, direct 'up yours' message to a business entity from the city forestry department," he says. "There are still trees all over the city lying in ruins from the storm...and they did this?"

The time was right, responds city forester Jude O'Connor. "The pressure as far as planting during the drought was over," she says. "We felt it was important to get in and restore the landscape."

So that the landscape could suffer the stress of another Grand Prix season? "We're worried about stress in every tree everywhere," she explains. "We have a lot of problems, and we're still cleaning things up. Drought stress is not going to manifest itself until the heat of the summer."

Frew is manifesting stress right now.

He'd already reconfigured Grand Prix seating to make sure there would be no complaints this year about the sightlines, and created stands like the Rockpile right by the pits. So the new trees won't bother the Grand Prix -- but the Grand Prix is almost certain to bother the new trees. Frew says he talked with some of the workers doing the planting, and even they agreed it was crazy.

"We're just trying to do business," he says. "We're finishing an economic-impact thing right now. At the very minimum, without costing the city a dime, we brought in between $10 million and $30 million. Most parts of the city have been just wonderful to work with. But it doesn't matter what the mayor thinks, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks, because this third-level bureaucrat has decided she's in charge of city policy. For some reason, they continue to kick the Grand Prix."

Gentlepeople, start your engines.

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