Neighborhood Icon #3 of 76: Speer
Neighborhood Icon #3 of 76: Speer

Mike Rusconi is a Speer neighborhood icon: Kenny Be's Hip Tip

A spear dissects the logo pictured above like Speer Blvd. dissects the neighborhood that takes its name.

Few people realize that the Speer neighborhood exists, even though it is in the center of the city and located directly between the Cherry Creek Mall and downtown. Carmine's on Penn sits in the center of the southern end and is considered a part of Wash Park, while Pablo's Coffee sits on the northern border and is thought to be in Capitol Hill. The Speer neighborhood acts as a buffer between these two popular neighborhoods and is a perfect blend of both.

The eclectic mix of apartment blocks interspersed with single-family homes appeals to people who want to settle down but don't want to give up the things that make a city great. Which explains why Speer resident Mike Rusconi is fighting, against all odds, to save Byers Junior High School...

Speer neighborhood icons, Mike Rusconi and Byers Junior High School.
Speer neighborhood icons, Mike Rusconi and Byers Junior High School.

Byers Junior High School opened it's doors in 1921. Administrative experimentation shifted the enrollment in 1984 to an ever-changing succession of alternative schools that ended when the Denver School of the Arts moved out of the building in 2003. Denver voters approved a 2003 bond issue in which Byers was to receive $8 million for renovation. However, the school sits empty as the district looks for a developer to turn the building into condos. Neighbors have taken matters into their own hands.

As seen in the illustration above, Mike Rusconi is lending his face to the neighborhood campaign to put the beautiful old gothic building to good use as the new home of Denver School of Science and Technology's (DSST) 4th campus. Whenever the TV news cameras roll, Mike is on hand to ask news viewers to visit the DSST-2-Byers Facebook page to sign an online petition that asks the Denver Public Schools to actually consider using the beautiful old school for a school. Considering the history of DPS finances, the smart money may be on Mike!

More from our Kenny Be/Comics archive: "Denver Police slowdown captured in pictures: Kenny Be's Fotochop Friday."

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