Admissions Policy Regressive, Says Cheesman Park Resident

These are the comments of Kathleen Wells of the West Cheesman
Park Neighborhood, regarding consideration of the admissions based
events policy by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

I hope that each of you votes “No” on the proposed policy to
allow admission-based events in Denver’s city parks for the following
four reasons.

1. Parks should be free and open to the public. Allowing admission-
based events in parks prevents the use of part or all of the parks
during those events by the poor for profit-making by the few. Thus,
the policy is elitist.

2. Parks should be beautiful. Admission-based events in parks create
conditions for damage to parkland. Moreover, no one can guarantee that
damage would be restricted to the area in which an event is held.
Thus, the policy poses a risk to not only the parkland in which an
event is held but also to the entire park in which the event occurs.

3. Parks should (and do) contribute to the health, welfare, and
economic well-being of citizens, as demonstrated in the recently-
completed study of Denver Parks by the Trust for Public Land
(www.tpl.com). However, a policy of deliberate use of park land to
generate income for either profit-making companies or the city will
undermine the much larger economic value of parks to the community. To
take just one example: I argue that if parks were to become sites for
large-scale profit-making events, the communities that surround them
will become LESS, not more, stable. The policy poses a risk to
communities.

4. Parks have a unique purpose within a city. They provide the space
in which all citizens can find respite from the density, noise, and
litter associated with urban life and in which plant and wild life can
be preserved. No other institution within a community can fulfill this
purpose as well. The adoption of so-called “new” purposes for parks,
sometimes discussed as though newness provides its own justification,
will undermine their primary purpose. Thus, the policy is
regressive.

Many of you know that Denver has a proud tradition of being one
of the few cities in the United States to exemplify the best features
of the City Beautiful Movement in the early part of the past century.
The leaders of this movement in Denver, including prominent elected
city officials, were central to the creation of our parks and
advanced their purpose in ways that I have also endorsed today.

This history shows that maintenance and expansion of parks
require a grand vision; high-quality political leadership; stable
funding mechanisms; and legal clarity regarding and power to support
proposed initiatives.

We need to claim and to build on our best traditions and to
advance proactively policies to support the primary purpose of parks.
A rejection of the proposed admission-based events policy would be
one step in that direction.

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