After multiple rounds of voting that ran for weeks, Stapleton residents have chosen Central Park as the new name for their neighborhood, ditching the moniker the development took almost three decades ago, when it was built on the former home of Denver's first municipal airfield, named after Benjamin Stapleton, a leading member of the Ku Klux Klan who was elected mayor of Denver in 1923 with the KKK's help.
"We’re saying here in our neighborhood that we don’t support racism, we don’t support social injustices, and we don’t support anything that is representative of that," Angela Williams, a state senator and resident of Stapleton, said during a Zoom call to announce the name.
Central Park received 63 percent of the votes, beating out Skyview as the top choice in the final round of voting that wrapped up on July 30. A total of 5,834 votes were counted.
From more than 300 suggestions for a new name, the residents ultimately settled on a very safe option: There's already a Central Park in the neighborhood, as well as a Central Park Boulevard that runs along the west side of that park.
But some activists who'd been pushing for a name change for years say that the choice of Central Park represents a lost opportunity, when residents could have honored a prominent person of color.
"There’s a sense of disappointment among many in the community who had hoped that the new name would have symbolic significance in restoring equity and promoting healing," the advocacy group Rename St*pleton for All wrote on its Facebook page on July 29. "For those who are feeling disappointed, this is our message: These final two options provide some useful information about community sentiment and how much more work needs to be done going forward to restore equity and promote healing. Sit with that feeling for a bit, and figure out what you can do to change *that*."
In the meantime, the Master Community Association of Stapleton still has to approve the name change, though it's already promised to do so. In the coming months, the new name will be put on signs, as well as official city maps and neighborhood guiding documents. Additionally, the MCA will get a new name, as will Stapleton United Neighbors, or SUN, the organization that spearheaded the name-change vote.
So long, Stapleton; hello, Central Park.
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