Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Sunken Gardens Park ditches the porta-potties after neighbors got pissy about heroin dealers

The city has removed the porta-potties from Sunken Gardens Park -- but the smelly temporary toilets weren't the reason that neighbors were raising a stink. Over the last month, there's been an influx of heroin dealers in the area.

According to the Denver Police Department, the smack slingers have been pushed west toward 11th and Speer Boulevard by the renovation of Civic Center Park. "It's like toothpaste," an officer had told a gathering two weeks ago. "We squeeze, and they pop up in other areas."

This meeting was in the Ballpark neighborhood, where residents and business owners have been complaining about crime based in what's officially known as Eddie Maestas Park (until his family made the city take the sign off this disgrace of a patch of land) and unofficially called the Bumuda Triangle. While some of the problems are squirting into other parts of downtown, the officer specifically cited the heroin dealing at 11th and Speer.

Neighbors in that area had originally asked the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation to put toilets in Sunken Gardens Park, so that people wouldn't do their business in the trees. But now that their business has become a lot more dangerous than just urinating and defecating, the enclosed places had become more of a hazard, and residents started raising a stink.

The cops have been vigilant in patrolling the park, residents told CBS4 when reporter Rick Sallinger recently went under cover at Sunken Gardens to look at the heroin trade.

He stayed out of the porta-potties.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Denver Animal Shelter's new headquarters upgrades the experience of going to the dogs."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun