Last year, the city powers-that-be changed the rules to allow overnight parking downtown. But the much-celebrated change came with an equally frustrating dose of confusion, as explained in our cover story, "Feed Me." Now, the team of city employees who helped sort out that confusion has won a Denver 5281 Award, given to city workers who have "gone above and beyond in delivering a world-class city where everyone matters."
The 5281 Awards are a long-standing tradition, says Career Service Authority spokesman Ryan Nisogi. As for the name, a play on the city's elevation, he says, "What it was meant to represent is taking one step above the rest. It's a little cheesy, but we've stuck with that a long time because it has such great recognition here at the city."
This year, Nisogi says more than a hundred people were nominated out of the city's nearly 10,000 employees. A committee then chose ten individual and six team winners based on three multi-tiered criteria that are explained on the 5281 Awards website.
Christine Downs, spokeswoman for the city Department of Public Works, says the department's deputy manager nominated the overnight parking team for the honor. "It was something the community had asked for for a long time," she says of overnight parking, "and we felt this team worked really hard to get it in place."
Here's the official description of why they won:
The overnight parking program team worked with the Downtown Denver Partnership, the LoDo Business District and City Council to make changes that would allow for overnight parking in Denver. In addition to bringing together stakeholder to undertake this project, the team launched a comprehensive communications campaign to educate the public and businesses about the change. They even developed new wording for the meter stickers to make the rules more clear. From May through September, 125,000 total hours were purchased for the time period when parking was previously free or forbidden. This has positively affected businesses in the Denver area -- especially those who have late night or early-morning customers, or employees that work graveyard shifts.
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The awards ceremony will take place tomorrow at the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The parking folks to be honored include Kelly Duffy, Matt Wagner, Sean Mackin, Kelly Colvin, Cindy Patton, Tina Scardina, Bill Miles and Roberta Munoz -- several of whom gave the parking 411 to Westword last year.
Ann Williams, who works in communications for Public Works and served as former Mayor Bill Vidal's communications director last year, also won a 5281 Award. Among her accomplishments: helping implement the "ParkSmarkDenver" campaign "to educate residents on the new rules for overnight parking."