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Denver to shut down Civic Center Park 'until further notice' due to crime, safety concerns

National historic landmark to close to the public on Sept. 15
civic center park denver.png
Posted at 4:04 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 20:29:23-04

DENVER – Civic Center Park will shut down for the foreseeable future due to crime and other safety risks to public health, officials with the city’s parks and recreation department said Tuesday.

City officials said “significant” risks have grown over the past several months that need to be addressed, including the accumulation of waste at Civic Center Park along with a rise in crime at the park and surrounding areas which are “jeopardizing the public’s ability to safely enjoy one of Denver’s treasured outdoor spaces.”

The closure, city officials said, will help the city restore the park to a “stable and safe state that is welcoming for all Denver residents.”

Civic Center Park will close to the public beginning Wednesday, Sept. 15. Notice of the closure will be posted at the park this Wednesday.

“The current challenges within Civic Center Park have reached a tipping point, creating conditions that put the public’s health and safety at risk,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a prepared statement. “This cannot and will not be allowed to continue. This is the people’s park and we are taking steps so that everyone can once again feel safe and welcomed there.”

Denver Police Department crime data shows between Jan. 1 through Aug. 28 of this year, there were 452 reported crimes at and around Civic Center Park, with 184 crimes occurring at the park itself. At least 81 crimes at Civic Center Park were narcotics-related, DPD data shows. A month-by-month breakdown can be seen in the graph below.

crimes at and around civic center park from january to aug 28 2021.png
The graph above shows the number of reported crimes to the Denver Police Department at and around Civic Center Park from Jan. 1 to Aug. 28, 2021.

City officials said excessive amounts of trash have grown with each day, consisting of discarded food, as well as human and hazardous waste, including improperly discarded needles and other drug paraphernalia. They also said graffiti and fire damage to historical stone structures at the park have occurred, which will require professional restoration.

During the closure, the city’s parks and recreation department will restore turf in the park, mitigate the rodent infestation, reseed green areas and make upgrades to the irrigation system. The city will also trim trees and begin installation of additional lighting upgrades throughout the park.

Civic Center Park will reopen when abatement measures have been completed and the park is “safe for everyone to use," according to Tuesday's news release.

City officials said organizers of scheduled events in Civic Center Park are being contacted for relocation to other areas in the city.

Additionally, city officials said Tuesday that outreach teams have been working every day to connect people experiencing homelessness with services and housing.

"The Civic Center Conservancy supports the decision of the City & County of Denver to temporarily close Civic Center Park due to safety concerns. As an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping the Park active and thriving for all, we recognize crime and safety have been an issue in this beloved public space for some time and appreciate the City’s leadership in proactively addressing the issues," said Eric Lazzari, the executive director for the Civic Center Conservancy. "We need to take this opportunity for a reset of the Park and to examine how we approach services, security and other operational matters."