Denver To Allow Fee-Based Concerts, Fundraisers In Parks

Parts Of City Parks Would Be Closed For Events

If you live near a Denver city park, take note. It could get a lot more crowded once Denver starts allowing parks to host concerts, fundraisers and other ticketed events.

The city plans to open parks up to fee-based events beginning as early as Nov. 1, 2010.

City-owned parks have always allowed free events, but now the city's planning to allow events that charge you to get in.

Some said parks should always remain free and accessible.

Mandy Szakacs stops to cool off in a stream after a run, something she's come to enjoy about her neighborhood park.

"Yeah, I don't think I'd be too happy if I had to run on the road," said Szakacs.

The city is now considering blocking off areas of city parks on any given day for admission-based events.

"Even during the admission-based events, 80 percent of the park would still be open to the public," said Jill McGranahan, communications director for Denver Parks and Recreation.

That's still not OK with Kris Spranger.

"There are hundreds of people down here," said Spranger of Confluence Park. "Where are they going to go?"

Others don't have a problem with it. Jeff Batt said his hometown already charges for some use of city-owned parks.

"People routinely pay for picnic areas or covered shelters for picnics. So, I guess I'm used to that. So that doesn't necessarily bother me," said Batt.

"If it was just a portion of the park shut down, and you could still access the park to walk, run, do the things that you normally do, I think that is OK," said Dahlena Kullman.

Ten percent of the money from the events would go back to the city, half to the general fund and the other half to the parks for improvements.

"Amenities and improvements are just not in the budget right now," said McGranahan.

"What about those who say, 'I'm a taxpayer. I pay taxes. Parks should be open and accessible all the time?'" asked 7NEWS reporter Russell Haythorn.

"What I would say to them is that, when we permit a picnic site that site is effectively closed off to anyone but those who have permitted it," said McGranahan. "It's really no different."

Szakacs argues blocking any portion of the park is wrong.

"If you take that away, it just really diminishes quality of life, I think," she said.

"It would be unfair," said Spranger. "Not everyone can afford those events. And we all already pay city taxes for use of these parks."

"Things are continuously increasing in fees and what we have to pay for, and it's nice to have parks in the city that you can use all the time -- free of charge," said Szakacs.

The parks and rec advisory board approved this plan last Thursday.

They will begin allowing fee-based events in eight of Denver's city parks.

It's something the city would like to have in place by Nov. 1.

The issue has created such a backlash, there's even a group that has started a Parks Are For People web site.