Residents square off over proposed Washington Park alcohol ban

Series of problems plague Denver's popular park

DENVER - About 150 people showed up for a public meeting Wednesday night to discuss a proposal to ban alcohol from Washington Park.

The meeting was in response to a letter written by District 7 City Councilman Chris Nevitt asking Denver Parks and Recreation to consider the idea after a series of problems including litter, public urination and violent fights.  Currently, the only alcohol allowed in any city park is 3.2 beer.

"I spend at least a half hour bagging stuff that people leave behind," said one Wash Park resident speaking at Wednesday night's hearing in the Denver Baha'i Center.

"Protecting the consumption of alcohol is an asset, not a liability to this park," another resident countered.

City officials displayed pictures on billboards of overflowing portable toilets, piles of beer cans and images of people urinating in public.  Last year, Denver Parks and Recreation spent $100,000 on bathrooms alone.  According to Parks and Recreation, rangers handed out 93 glass citations and 1,280 warnings.

"There are drunk men and women urinating in my alley, there are drunk people driving recklessly down the alley," said a kid who lives across from Denver's most popular park.

Some argued instead of banning beer, the city should look at other solutions like writing more citations, metering parking and limiting areas where people play sports.

"It reminds me of the people who moved next to Stapleton and then got angry because the planes are landing," said one resident who received a booming applause.

If the parks manager makes the emergency rule, by law it would take effect for 180 days.  No word on when the city will make a final decision.

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