Washington Park's new volleyball rules being relaxed after complaints

Last week, we told you about new rules for Washington Park set to go into effect on Memorial Day weekend -- an apparent response to Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt's unsuccessful effort to ban alcohol at the park due to what he described as "belligerent, drunken behavior."

Mere days later, the regs regarding volleyball in the park are already being relaxed thanks to some serious push-back from players.

The Denver Parks and Recreation website features a section about "a new [volleyball] permitting process that will begin Memorial Day weekend and will continue every weekends through Labor Day weekend." The goal is to "better handle the number of organized activities occurring in a single area, specifically within the meadow at Washington Park."

The listed rules include the following:

• The new volleyball drop-in permit system will require obtaining a free 3-or 6-hour permit, with a refundable deposit of $30 or $60, respectively.

• Fees will only be incurred if permitted time is exceeded by permit holder.

• Debit or credit card is required to secure a permit.

• Permit Station will be located east of the meadow.

• Permit times are 10:00 a.m. -- 7:00 p.m.

We've included a copy of the permit below, which outlines fines for infractions: $100 for a first offense, $250 for the second and $500 for the third.

The rules frosted one Westword reader, who sent us the following e-mail a few days prior to the holiday weekend under the subject line "When did volleyball players become villains?" It reads:
Here I thought the Denverites that spent hours in the park playing volleyball were living the healthy lifestyle the state boasts. So why are they being unfairly targeted by our city's leadership?

On Denver Mayor Hancock's website he boasts that "a city is built of great neighborhoods." Wash Park is one of those neighborhoods. With hundreds of people flocking to the park everyday, these park visitors also support surrounding businesses and makes the neighborhood a top choice to live (with median house prices of $600,000 to prove it).

We don't need fees and restrictions on how long we can play volleyball on a Saturday. What is needed is the people out of control to be regulated without putting the blame on everyone with a net. What is needed is more bathrooms, instead of the few bathrooms that are available being regularly closed. What is needed more trash cans available to dispose of our empty 3.2% beer cans.

What is next -- paying a deposit to use the tennis courts? Or to walk your dog? For those of us who play responsibly and are enjoying the public spaces that are afforded to us as citizens of Denver these regulations are not only ridiculously unnecessary, they are unfair. When did volleyball players become the villains?
Evan Constan has similar gripes. Last weekend, as he told Fox31, he was cited for playing volleyball without the proper permit -- and he's not the only one. The outlet reports that six volleyball-related citations were handed out.

Now, however, the city's Jeff Green tells the station that volleyball players will be allowed to set up anywhere in the park outside a so-called "passive area" designated for families with kids, up to a limit of fifty nets. Moreover, there's no longer a charge and neither will a time limit be imposed -- but a permit will still be required.

Will these alterations satisfy park users? We've got a whole summer to find out. Here's a copy of the online Washington Park volleyball permit.

Washington Park Drop in Permit Application

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Follow That Story archive circa May 20: "What you can and can't do in Washington Park starting Memorial Day weekend."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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