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You don't need to remind Julius Zsako of that. At Denver's Community Planning and Development Department, he's seen -- and heard -- it all. The complaints about "too many people, too many animals, too many cars." In fact, there will be booths devoted to all three -- as well as many more concerns -- at the city's annual Neighborhood Leadership Conference on November 6. Participants will get to hear from the mayor, from the planning director, from the police chief. "It's your chance to discuss your pet peeve with a city official," says Zsako.
If "discuss" is the right word: All politics are local, and the fights from block to block in this city, in any city, make the presidential debates look like tea parties. Neighborhood spats truly hit you where you live.
"It's one of the things I love about local politics," says MacKenzie, sounding almost convinced. "They all feel they can have an opinion."
While opinions have been boiling over in West Wash Park, residents managed to keep a lid on the coffee clash at the WWPNA's semi-annual meeting last Wednesday. And as neighbors continue to stop in and offer their support, Cominsky and Blanchard are considering their options in West Wash Park. A meeting with city officials last week encouraged Cominsky to think about going for a PUD -- a Planned Unit Development rezoning -- that might save the patio, although probably not before the late-November deadline.
Infusious say "one cup at a time," and right now the partners have their hands full with the renovation of part of the old Olinger's into a second Perk & Pub -- this one with a real pub -- in a neighborhood that's welcomed them with open arms. "It was a night-and-day difference," says Cominsky. The neighborhood group -- Highland United Neighbors Inc., or HUNI -- has been supportive. The city council representative, Judy Montero, has been supportive. With the Highland Perk & Pub, they're going for the same "center of the community feel" -- but with more room for the community, less space for neighborhood spats, and no ugliness to block one of the best views of the city.
"The lessons we learned, we applied to the HUNI folks," Cominsky says. And so at this Perk & Pub, they'll offer breakfast, because the neighbors asked for it. They'll offer weekend brunch, because the neighbors asked for it. They'll serve "mourning brew" and "crematoria ale," in honor of the mortuary's august history. (Buffalo Bill slept here -- and never woke up.) And they'll offer a Bloody Mary bar, because -- well, I know the neighbors asked for it, since I live as close to the Olinger's building as I once lived to that laundromat on Ohio.
"We did everything the way they asked us to do it," says Cominsky.
"They've taken all the steps they need to with the neighborhood, listening to the neighborhood," says Montero. "They're capturing the stuff that keeps people together." And so even before the Perk side of the venture opens next month (with the Pub portion following a few weeks later), they'll host "Neighborfest 2004" from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 30, with food, beer and live music from assorted bands, including the Reals, an act born and bred in Highland. The fun on Boulder Street is free and open to all.
Even folks from West Washington Park.
"The city needs to set up a counselor," Cominsky concludes. "An expert on How to Open a Business for Dummies."
Chapter 1: The city should do the neighborly thing and roll out the welcome mat -- and the sidewalks -- in West Wash Park.