City and County of Denver
Chris Nevitt
Councilman – District 7 / Council President Email: City & County Building • Room 451 Denver, Colorado • 80202
720-337-7777 FAX: 720-865-9540

March 13, 2014 Lauri Dannemiller Executive Director of Denver Parks & Recreation

Re: Washington Park Alcohol Ban Proposal Dear Director Dannemiller, I am writing to respectfully but firmly request that Denver Parks & Recreation ban the consumption of alcohol in Washington Park. We both understand that Washington Park is perhaps the most popular park in the Denver parks system. We also both understand that, as a highly popular park, we can expect issues with crowding, waste, parking, and conduct. This understanding is generally shared by the community I represent that is adjacent to Washington Park – it is a wonderful amenity to live near, but it is an amenity that also belongs to the rest of the city, and because it is a wonderful amenity, many of our fellow-citizens will come to use it, and that popularity comes with some inconvenience to those living nearby. Over the last several years, however, acceptable inconvenience has metastasized into an almost constant barrage of unacceptable abuse. As you know, last summer, my office and yours fielded a constant stream of complaints: trash strewn across the park and in surrounding neighborhoods; overflowing portable toilets despite multiple additions of toilets by your office; belligerent drunken behavior in the park and in surrounding neighborhoods; loud and occasionally violent confrontations; public urination in the park and in surrounding neighborhoods; cars parked in front of driveways and blocking sidewalks and alleys; shouting matches in the street between nearby residents and park users parked, peeing, or littering illegally. Not only have these issues had profound impacts on the residents living adjacent to Washington Park, but they have also seriously eroded the vital family-friendly quality of one of our City’s finest parks. All these issues share a common theme: they are all either directly caused or badly exacerbated by alcohol. I understand that only the consumption of 3.2% alcohol is legal in Denver parks. For the most part, this mild prohibition, and what are likely mild violations of it, works fine. In Washington Park, it does not. Despite dramatic increases in enforcement, not only by Park Rangers dispatched by your office, by Denver Police, by Right-of-Way Enforcement, and by coordinated efforts among all of us, enormous quantities of full-strength alcohol continue to be consumed in Washington Park. The chaos that ensues has become all too predictable. This situation is destructive and unacceptable for nearby residents, for park users, for passers-by, for other parks from which resources have been withdrawn to combat the issues at Washington Park, and for Washington Park itself.

I sincerely appreciate all the hard work and effort exerted by you and your staff to address these issues and keep Washington Park one of the crown jewels in our park system. It is time, unfortunately, to face the fact that these efforts are both enormously costly but also insufficient to solve the problem. We need to affect a profound yet cost-effective change in Washington Park. I believe that the complete ban of alcohol in Washington Park is that change we must affect. It is simple, straightforward to communicate, and easy to enforce. I have every expectation that Washington Park will continue to be enormously popular, but it will be popular for the right reasons, and popular to all our citizens and all socially constructive activities, not the playground of the few whose abuse of alcohol makes it impossible for others to enjoy their park or their neighborhood. Thank you for your consideration. I understand that you will have to manage a diversity of priorities and interests as you do so. I look forward to working with you and your staff on implementing this in the fairest, most reasonable, and effective way possible. Sincerely,

Chris Nevitt Denver City Councilman Council District 7 Denver City Council President

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