Some say litter from homeless at Denver's Civic Center Park becoming a problem

DENVER – It’s a crown jewel sitting between the state Capitol and Denver’s City and County building. However, Civic Center Park, for all its beauty, is becoming more of an eyesore with the amount of littered trash.

At any given moment, there are dozens of homeless people on the park’s lawn. It’s the growing group of homeless whom visitors blame for the trash.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department says for much of the year, Civic Center Park has four dedicated workers and a supervisor who maintain the park’s cleanliness. Besides the group of five, park rangers mentioned Denver Police, Public Works and others are involved in a multi-agency effort to keep the park clean.

A Parks and Rec spokeswoman said the department added additional trash receptacles in 2017 to combat the litter.

 “It's almost third-world in nature,” Charles Ehwa said, as he referred to the mess left every morning at the park.

The Boston native has spent several years living on Denver streets.

 “Here, where Denver shows off its best, its history, its reach into the future – which is tremendous,” the homeless senior said.

However, all of that was met with a Monday morning mess. Rangers told Denver7 a man was digging through trash cans in the early morning hours, and was deliberately littering.

“I see this activity occurring sometimes,” Park Ranger Supervisor Bob Cornell said. “We do our best to maintain that standard.”

A standard that he said has called for clean-up crews year-round.

First-time visitors aren’t impressed.

“It doesn't look like a park,” Kylie Husman said. She told Denver7 that she didn’t expect the trash.

“You think of Colorado, you think of like the big open mountainous area,” Husman explained.

“Then you see this and it's like, ‘Oh, every state does have their problems.’”

Long-time neighbor David Rosentrater disagrees. He said he walks through Civic Center Park several times a week, and doesn’t see an issue.

 “I walk almost every morning when the weather is decent along the Cherry Creek path,” he said. “And there, I see more issues with drug paraphernalia and that kind of scary trash.”

Rosentater added that a small amount of trash shouldn’t stop people from visiting a city he admires.

He said, “The park is always fine, I never feel unsafe. I’m comfortable here, but then again I’m a downtown dweller.”

Some of the homeless population being blamed for the daily mess are pointing at the younger generation of urban travelers. Charles Ehwa told Denver7, “I was raised differently. This is a different culture.”

Parks and Rec workers said the trash isn’t the biggest concern from neighbors who reached out to the department. In fact, employees said they receive the most calls on dogs that are off-leash.

The department is currently looking to hire around 1,000 more workers for the spring and summer months. With pleasant weather expected, more people are needed to keep up with maintenance in parks around the city.

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