While all of Denver (and a few suburb-dwellers who haven't been discouraged completely from heading to LoDo for an evening's entertainment) eagerly awaits Mayor John Hickenlooper's long-anticipated fixes to downtown's parking debacle, help is already at hand in certain areas just a few steps away from the core city. Back in 2001 -- right around the time that then-parking czar John Oglesby revealed his new plan upping parking prices and expanding meter hours to reflect Denver's status as a "world-class city" (a plan that subsequently resulted in Oglesby's getting the boot) -- the city identified several dozen "Value Meters" and flagged them with green stickers for price-conscious parkers.
According to the Denver Department of Public Works, which oversees all things parking-related, you can still find these bargain meters in three areas:
At Fifth and Walnut streets, near the Auraria campus, where you can park up to five hours for 50 cents an hour.
At 12th Avenue between Broadway and Acoma, near the Denver Public Library, where you can park up to eight hours for 50 cents an hour.
And at 15th Street and Little Raven, near Six Flags Elitch Gardens, where you can park up to four hours for $1 an hour.
But on Monday night, an intrepid Off Limits correspondent -- off to see exactly which city boosters might be imbibing what at the Diamond Cabaret -- found a fourth Value Meter location, just south of Colfax on Fox Street. Across the street, in front of the Diamond, the Emily Griffith Opportunity School or the Denver Athletic Club, those demanding downtown meters still gobble down $1.50 an hour until 10 p.m. -- with a two-hour limit per spot per car. But in this stretch of clearly labeled Value Meters, one thin dime will buy you twelve minutes -- and the meter readers stop ticketing at 6 p.m.! Talk about value! Say, maybe that's why Eugene Dilbeck's staffers from the Denver Metro Denver Convention & Visitors Bureau headed over to the Diamond after work a few weeks ago: They wanted to check out the Value Meters' marketing potential.
Conventioneers, take note: Any cash you save parking at one of the green-flagged meters can be deposited in the G-strings of the Diamond dancers. But dollars work much better than dimes.
Ballot boxed: Hickenlooper didn't stay still long enough to require meter-feeding when he dropped off his ballot at the Denver Election Commission early Tuesday morning. That's because he had a pressing appointment back at City Hall -- although not in the mayor's office. No, he'd been called for jury duty.
Which was too bad, because the election commissioners could have used another set of hands -- and lungs -- to deal with voters befuddled by this city's first all-mail election. By then, it was almost too late to help the clueless types who hadn't realized the vote was by mail-in (or delivered) ballots until they showed up at their typical polling places. But even those who had paid attention to the rules found some of the ballot instructions baffling. For example, the "official instructions" sheet sent with the ballot to a voter's home advised you to "use a #2 pencil or black ink pen." But on the ballot itself, the "ballot marking instructions" warned you not to use a "pen," among other forbidden writing implements. What gives?
"Well, someone made an error," replies election spokesman Alan McBeth.
And that's not all. As the "official instructions" sheet noted, the "official return envelope" could be hand-delivered on Election Day to the Election Commission Office at "200 W. 14th Ave." But wait! Just below, the sheet listed "200 W. Colfax Ave., suite 100" as the office address (and did so in both English and Spanish).
Some confusion over the commission's address is understandable -- after all, the agency had been slated to make the move to the sumptuous new Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building last fall until, for some still- murky reason, it was determined that there wasn't room for it after all. Instead, the commission was moved to temporary quarters at 200 West 14th Avenue while its old home at 303 West Colfax is being renovated. The commission should be back in that space by March. But don't look for it -- ever -- at 200 West Colfax, a spot that's currently covered in plywood. And bureaucratic bungling.
On a short leash: There's certainly been some bureaucracy happening over at the Department of Parks and Recreation. While Public Works is still without a director, Hickenlooper hurried to appoint new leader Kim Bailey to replace James Mejia, the parks department's interim head ever since a scandal spirited off Wellington Webb appointee and scofflaw game-day parker B.J. Brooks. But even with Bailey in place, the off-leash dog park initiative is mired in group-think.
Just don't blame Britta Herwig, one of two parks planners heading up the effort to let dogs roam free.
This summer, the dog-park project was put on hold after residents across the city began barking at their councilmembers. Up until that point, the parks department's attempt to create a one-year pilot program had been going smoothly -- and relatively silently -- as a roundtable of representatives from parks, animal control, each of the council districts and community groups worked to outline criteria for selecting potential sites and managing the program (The Straight Poop," April 3). But once Cheesman Park neighbors started baring their teeth, Mejia and other out-going officials started running scared, postponing the pilot's start date from summer 2003 to January 2004.
Before vacating his Webb Mahal office entirely, however, Mejia did whittle Cheesman, Veterans Park, Ruby Hill Park and Northside Park from the list of nine proposed dog-park sites, leaving just Barnum Park, Berkley Park, Fuller Park, Green Valley Ranch and Kennedy Soccer on the list -- and really screwing the pooch on central Denver. The closest downtown residents will now come to a dog park is one fenced acre of the tiny, two-and-a-half-acre Fuller Park, at 28th Avenue and Gilpin Street. (And Cheesman neighbors were pissed that seven and a half acres of their eighty-acre park might go to the dogs!)
On Tuesday, Herwig visited the Denver City Council's Public Amenities Committee to offer an update on the dog-gone situation. Unfortunately for her, Charlie Brown was the only returning member (although newly elected councilwoman Jeanne Robb had sat on the parks and rec advisory board), so for the umpteenth time, she had to start from the beginning to explain the process. She described the program, the process and the participants, and as questions kept coming, she explained how it would work. Yes, they'd considered that option and this one, and yes, they'd thought of that, too. All with a perfectly straight face. A smile, even.
We'd pay good money to see Herwig finally lose her composure and tell the council to shut up and do its damned homework before meetings. Instead, she suffered through councilmembers attacking her presentation style -- she uses the word "hopes" too often for Doug Linkhart's tastes; it's not concrete enough -- and treating her like an idiot who hadn't thought of any of their new and fabulous ideas. As though neither she nor anyone else on the 21-member roundtable had considered making parks off-leash only at certain times, as helpfully recommended by committee chair Marcia Johnson, or that the parks need objective monitoring, as Linkhart and Rick Garcia instructed, or that the sod might suffer.
Yes, Herwig hopes the dog parks work. Yes, she hopes the turf won't suffer too much. Yes, she hopes people will buy the proposed $20 off-leash license to use the parks. She also hopes people will pick up after their animals, unlike at Englewood's recently revoked off-leash park. She hopes many things. But most of all, she hopes to get the project going -- despite this week's rumblings of reopening the process and considering other locales -- so she can give councilmembers the hard facts and monitoring numbers they so desperately want.
But first, an off-leash park has to actually make it out of group-think.
Circle jerks: Those aliens are getting personal. First they carved Colorado into crop circles. Now they're blaming it all on Ted.
Weld County resident Adam Kaiser woke up Tuesday morning to what he describes as an "odd practical joke" -- the word "TED" spelled out in sod in the middle of his fields. But at least the culprits, whether human or out of this world, were courteous pranksters.
"Nothing is damaged," says Kaiser, a corn, hay and pinto-bean farmer. "It's just out in the middle field here. It's nice sod. Somebody did a good job. Thank Ted, or whoever it is, because I've got a good use for that stuff."
A womb of one's own: Having just seen the movie Veronica Guerin, I went back and read Gregory Weinkauf's quite interesting review ("Saint Veronica," October 16), in which he described said Veronica as a "feisty suburban wife and mother of one."
Gag. Let me point out -- again, since you knuckleheads don't seem to get it -- that none of the male characters had their place of residence and/or number of offspring so described. Please evolve. End of feminist rant.
via the Internet
Ted alert: Gregory Weinkauf states that Sylvia isn't flawless, and that's one of the few accurate statements in his review ("Love Among the Ruins," October 23). The film was a piece of claptrap with the writer's and director's over-the-top portrayal of Sylvia Plath as demented. Gwyneth Paltrow spouted Plath in a stilted, overly dramatic way that caused laughter from the audience at the preview I attended. The soundtrack swelled to such a peak at times that one thought at least three philharmonic orchestras had to have been playing at once. Was this a dramatic, insightful film? One would hardly think so, with the insertion of gratuitous comic relief near the end. Although Ted Hughes did not come off unscathed, it is interesting to note that in the final screen statements, no mention was made of Hughes's second wife, Assia, committing suicide by gas with their young child, Shura. Who was the demon here, really?
Having a ball, wish you were here: Eric Dexheimer's "Fools for Foos," in the October 16 issue, was a great article! It was a history lesson on the Denver foos scene, which is arguably the best in the country. Denver should be proud -- and would be proud, if more people knew about the scene. Articles like this help. Thanks for the read.
via the Internet
Chain letter: I always enjoy reading Jason Sheehan's reviews and visit many restaurants vicariously through him. He does seem to cause some controversy, but a critic's review is supposed to do exactly that: look within and determine if there's room for change, rather than becoming complacent.
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Jason's review of Brewery Bar III in Lone Tree ("The Sporting Life," October 30) was accurate; however, the fact that the restaurant is locally owned and operated is what will keep me continuing to patronize it. Even though Brewery Bar III is in suburbanville -- and I avoid Park Meadows and the surrounding area whenever possible -- at least I feel good about supporting a locally owned business rather than a corporate chain.
An interesting piece would be how many restaurants in that locale are locally owned versus chain status. I'm still going to support the local restaurant.