Letters to the Editor

The Grass Is Always Greener

Space case: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Park Place," in the August 15 issue:

What makes Denver special for so many of us who can only visit occasionally are the parks, boulevards and leafy streetscapes. By contrast, a city like Phoenix, a mecca of libertarian know-nothingism, has very little of this. Streets here are merely adjuncts to freeways, and the parks are utilitarian afterthoughts. Denver's glory isn't the Broncos, the widening of I-25 or the disproportionate number of LoDo sports bars. It's the parks. They soothe the frayed nerves of a car-choked city. They make life in Denver much better than it otherwise would be.

Walter Hall
Phoenix, Arizona

A bridge too far: Thanks for the article on Denver parks. Stuart Steers is correct: The community does not want a pedestrian bridge installed over the wetlands in Hutchinson Park. Nor does the community want the only boardwalk in Denver removed. The bridge would span the wetlands and would have a negative impact on the wildlife and birds that live at that end. It is a center-support bridge, and a pylon would have to be sunk into the channel in order to install it. This will cause severe erosion. It is well-known that any encroachment into a wetland environment is not beneficial.

The community told the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation that the bridge was not wanted. It is an unnecessary expenditure. Budgets are being cut throughout the city. The cost of this bridge should also be cut. Why is it being crammed down the community's throat? It is going to increase maintenance costs in the future and is going to increase the cost of the project substantially. The community deserves it eliminated from the plan. The boardwalk is more compatible with a wetland environment. When it floods, the boardwalk floats out of place. It is easy to reinstall. A gravel trail would wash out and have to be replaced at a continued additional cost. A community petition also addressed the desire to keep the boardwalk in place; copies of the signed petitions were given to Denver City Council member Joyce Foster and to James Mejia, head of the parks department.

It is important to make the local environment a focus in our own lives. The small measures we can take to help the environment will add up in the long run. We have a unique park, and we have an opportunity to do a tremendous job managing an important resource. In this instance, doing the least amount of work will not only benefit the wetlands, but it will keep costs down. As we are all very cost-conscious these days, this is an added benefit.

Paula Saraceno

Parking pass: Stuart Steers's "Park Place" ought to be required reading for every present and future Denver officeholder. He eloquently and comprehensively describes the nexus of politics and the public realm. By thoroughly tracing the history of Denver's parks and parkways and the legendary designers and politicians whose visions were realized, he provides the necessary context for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Denver is fortunate to have a reporter with such a keen regard for our history and our built environment. We are also very lucky to have talented and thoughtful landscape architects like Susan Baird working on behalf of Denver's past, present and future citizens.

Susan Barnes-Gelt
Denver City Council

Bombs Away

Not smart: As someone who appreciates Patricia Calhoun's columns, I now conclude her August 22 "Smart Bombs" column went further astray than those dropped in Afghanistan.

To the little extent that Intelligence Bureau targets have been described, the number of subjects who were violators of state and federal laws was around 300, an ominous total indeed! My notoriously poor math indicates the other 3,100-plus subjects were not investigated for anything justified in criminal investigation. That the venerable American Friends Service Committee is branded a "criminal extremist" group should be food for serious thought rather than tittering and tongue-clucking by numerous middle-class liberals (with political aspirations) cited in the column, nice folk who read the headlines and then go about their comfortable routines. The AFSC has long opposed racism, police brutality, domestic spying, genocide, imperial interventions and militarism, putting them on J. Edgar Hoover's blacklists in the old days and keeping them in police files today. Such stands counter everyday policy emanating from a White House occupied by someone who was not elected.

To the extent that I know John Hickenlooper or am familiar with Penfield Tate, I know they are decent folk. Ditto for Wellington Webb and Federico Peña, who both were on the sidelines, sometimes in the headlines, over police killings or misconduct in the 1970s. As mayors, they proved completely ineffectual in reining in police violence and criminality as they "imagined a great city," or, as term limits neared, promoted booster videos of Denver as a "world-class city" (whatever that feel-good term means). Don't believe me about being ineffectual; read the headlines throughout their tenures.

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