Civic Center Park, which shut down in March for construction work and landscaping work, will remain closed longer than originally announced. According to Parks and Recreation reps, the downtown hub will continue to be shuttered through at least mid June. The news applies immediately to Occupy Denver, whose members have slept across the street for more than a month, but it might no longer matter pending City Council's May 14 decision on the urban camping ordinance.
On that day, the council will conduct a final vote on the ban, which would make it illegal to camp on any public or private property inside the city limits without permission. Although city officials have denied any inspirational links between its implications and Occupy Denver, its approval would hit the local movement the same time as the rest of the city -- on May 29, before Civic Center Park is scheduled to reopen.
As Latest Word previously reported, Civic Center Park emptied for the first time in months on March 20, when Parks and Recreation closed down the park for renovations to the Broadway Terrace, Seal Pond, Voorhies Memorial and Greek Theater, including touch-ups to their irrigation system, sod and concrete pathways. Parks representatives passed out warnings to occupiers the afternoon before.
At 5 a.m. the following morning, police officers visited the park to evict the remaining protesters from the area. All on-site property that did not belong to those present was removed, and the group's size has since increased directly across the street on state property. As Parks and Recreation promised, frequent clean-ups have become routine as the occupation moves into the summer months. (For more information, see our previous coverage.)
In the meantime, the park has come under debate during discussions of the city's proposed camping ban. During the first public meeting of city officials on April 3, Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, executive director of the Civic Center Conservancy, cited the thousands of dollars required to clean-up graffiti in the park since the occupation began as one reason she supports the ban.
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Tonight, city council will host its first (and only) public hearing to discuss the ban, and members of Occupy Denver will be present.
While Civic Center Park remains closed, all previously planned and approved events will continue as scheduled, as did Denver's two-day 4/20 celebration, which took over the park last weekend.
More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: Police evict protesters from Civic Center Park, fence it off."