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Improvement plans for Red Rocks could impact trees, and not everyone's happy about it

Posted at 6:47 PM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-28 21:17:49-05

MORRISON, Colo. - If you’ve been to a show at Red Rocks in the last 75 years, they’ve been there. Two rows of juniper trees have sat between the massive rock formations and the masses of people. But a new city improvement plan could change that, kind of. 

“They were planted in the 1930s,” Steve Good of the Friends of Red Rocks group said.

But with time comes change, and a city plan to change the planter boxes where the trees live. The Friends of Red Rocks opposes that plan. 

“That involves not just removing some of the trees, it involves paving over half of these planter boxes and installing railings here,” Good told Denver7. 

“No we are not ripping out all the of the trees at Red Rocks,” venue director Tad Bowman countered.

“This is a rehabilitation project to help improve the aesthetics and maintain the current use of the planters as they’re being used today,” he went on to say.

Bowman showed the plans to Denver7 that involve half of each planter box being filled in with concrete, the installation of railings to meet building codes, and either replacing or moving the existing trees to the outer half of the planter boxes. 

“For the pilot program it’s to look at four of them to see how it works,” Bowman said.

The program needs the approval of the Landmark Preservation Commission before the pilot can happen. If it does and if it works, the rest of the boxes could be transformed within a few years. 

Bowman tells Denver7 that the plan involves a net gain of trees, since some would be replaced and other boxes without trees would be getting some. Yet there’s still criticism. 

“We don’t think it should be developed, we think it should be preserved. It’s a national landmark it’s time we treated it that way,” Good said.

The group the Friends of Red Rocks was actually formed in 1999 to oppose a different city plan involving the planter boxes. That plan, according to Good, would've ripped out all the trees and converted the boxes to corporate seating. The plan was opposed and defeated. Good says he worries this plan could open the door to future corporate seating. Bowman said that is not the case.