Small Change

Hereís something to do in Denver when itís dead.

There's a part of town so hot, the parking meters operate 24/7. And it's not Cherry Creek, not LoDo, not Highland, not even South Broadway. It's the Shops at Northfield Stapleton. That's right, at this giant new shopping mecca, you're supposed to feed your meter through the wee hours -- even if there's nothing to do here during the wee hours but feed your meter.

"It's private property, and the primary reason they put in the 24-hour meters is just to prevent cars from parking there overnight," explains Z.J. Czupor, spokesman for Northfield. Should you forget to drop in your dime, though, you needn't worry about tow trucks or boots: Security guards at Stapleton's faux-Main Street complex only issue "courtesy citations," whether your meter comes up empty during the day or at night. And if you don't want to collect even a warning, you can always park in the massive expanse of vacant asphalt in front of Target, Circuit City, OfficeMax or any of the other big-box stores that ring downtown Northfield -- and all close by 10 p.m.

Off Limits wonders what it would take to convince Denver's parking bureaucrats to take the same courteous approach after midnight? For a time, a parking commission was studying the possibility of allowing overnight parking on downtown streets -- it's currently prohibited between two and six in the morning -- but apparently the city just couldn't figure out how to keep the streets swept, even if parking was limited to one side of the street every other night. Which means that for now, at least, the great Let Out conundrum continues: Drive home drunk, or leave your car and get a ticket.

Signs of springtime: Before she raised eight children with her husband, Henry,on their farm in southern Colorado without benefit of telephone or electricity, Emma Salazarworked in Washington, D.C., in the War Department, while Henry served overseas. And in the six decades since, she hadn't been back to the nation's capitol -- even after two of her sons, Kenand John, were elected to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, in 2004.

But this week, the political matriarch finally returned -- to see where her sons now work and to get a look at the cherry blossoms, which are currently in full bloom. "I'm sneezing like some poor cat caught in the hayloft," says Salazar aide Scott Remley.

Scene and herd:The last Sunday in March was one of those unbelievably beautiful days that fills parks, patios and city sidewalks with both tourists and Denverites. And defendants. Seen strolling down 17th Street that afternoon, walking hand in hand with his wife, was Joe Nacchio, wearing non-courtroom casual jeans and that slightly hipper hairdo that resembles artificial turf. Since he commuted from New Jersey when he was running Qwest, this might have been the first time Nacchio ever enjoyed a sunny Sunday in Denver.

Photographers from the New York Times were also enjoying the city's balmy weather last weekend when they hit the streets to photograph the Fabric Lab, P Design Gallery, Composition and the 400 for an upcoming travel story on our town. "It started out that they were going to do cool new things going on in Denver, and they found our website and contacted us," explains P Design's Paul Hardt. "But I guess there wasn't enough cool stuff going on for them, so the story shifted to this idea of new things that are happening in Denver and in the Colorado region -- New York-quality things that haven't really happened before in the middle of the country."

About time the Times noticed we've shed our buffalo robes for more fashionable garb. All the news that fits...

 
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