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Talk of the Neighborhood

By Cara DeGette, GPHN Editor

The following is a synopsis of what was discussed during the Aug. 3 Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. monthly meeting. The next community meeting is Thursday, Sept 7, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at 2823 Fairfax St. The October gathering is the annual meeting and board elections for GPHC, Inc. It will be Thursday, Oct. 5. Details will be in next month’s issue, as well as advertised via social media during the month of September. The meetings are free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.

Making History
Two local high school lacrosse players made history this summer: Mustang Sally (#10) and Cole Finley-Ponds (#17) were selected for the No. 1 lacrosse showcase in America, Maverik Showtime. The top high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors in the United States and Canada are chosen for this prestigious annual event. Based on their performance in the showcase, both students were also selected for the Showtime All-Star Team.
Sally and Finley-Ponds are proud alumni of the renowned City Lax Lacrosse Program in Denver and play for the Denver Elite club lacrosse program. Both are juniors at East High School where they are members of the Honor Roll and members of the varsity men’s lacrosse team.
Photo courtesy of Ron Sally

District 2 Police Report

Sgt. Mark Rossi reported that thefts from motor vehicles continue to be a pattern in Park Hill. Similarly, garage and home burglaries increased over the summer months. Rossi urged residents to lock their cars, close their garages and lock their homes to avoid being easy targets. Also, don’t leave valuables in plain sight in cars. Report suspicious activity to District 2 at the non-emergency dispatch number 720-913-2000, and call 911 only to report crimes in progress. Follow DPD on Twitter @DenverPolice

Fleenor Update

GPHC Executive Director Sierra Fleenor provided updates on numerous community programs underway. During the month of June, the food pantry served 40 families and 128 individuals. In July, 41 households and 150 individuals were served. The weekly free farm stand, which is set up Mondays outside the GPHC office at 2823 Fairfax, has provided 1,200 pounds of fresh produce since June 5.  Ms. Fleenor thanked the volunteers who have donated items to the food stand, as well as filled the planters outside the GPHC office and participated in other projects sponsored by the registered neighborhood organization.

Update from the DA

Denver Deputy DA Michael Song provided several updates from the office of the District Attorney. Song is the head of the Elder Abuse Unit and noted that crimes against the elderly are on the rise, particularly economic crimes. “Sometimes, sons and daughters think it’s their right to have accelerated inheritances,” Song said.

In Colorado, people 70 years and older are considered “elderly” (in other states people 65 and older are categorized as such). Song also highlighted work being done on the issues of sex trafficking and minors, juvenile justice, police community relations, mental health and immigration. Marijuana continues to be a hot issue. Colorado continues to have no banking system in place for marijuana businesses, which creates a security and public safety issue, Song said. Currently, more marijuana businesses are being robbed in Denver than liquor stores.

Councilman Herndon Update

Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon thanked Park Hill for being “great hosts” of Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s July State of the City speech, which was delivered at Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center. Herndon highlighted several upcoming events and projects in his district, which includes Park Hill.

The city planning department is in the process of developing an East Area Plan for the area bordered by Colorado Boulevard east to the county line, between 6th Avenue and 23rd Avenue. (Neighborhoods include South Park Hill, Hale, Montclair and East Colfax.) “We’re in the process of asking, what do we want this area to become?” Herndon said. Residents will have the opportunity to help answer that question, he said, and a public survey is in the works.

Herndon also weighed in on the process for the proposed land swap of the former Xcel substation on Fairfax between 28th and 29th. The city, which now owns it, had previously announced plans for a small park there. However the developer of the east side of the business block (called Park Hill Commons) wants to swap the land for future development, and build a park on the east side of the street as part of the commercial and residential development project. The deal is subject to approval by the city council. Herndon said he supports the land swap. Denver Parks and Recreation manager Scott Gilmore is expected to attend the September GPHC meeting to detail the process with dates, etc.

Herndon also noted that Mayor Hancock was slated to hold a Cabinet in the Community event at Johnson & Wales University in Park Hill on Aug. 26. Department directors would be available to answer questions from the community on a variety of topics. Herndon also reminded attendees about his Aug. 5 Family Bike Parade, which traversed down 26th Avenue to the Smiley Campus.

Talk At The Library

“What’s our angle? We are not here to collect overdue fines,” Tara Bannon Wiliamson assured the audience. Williamson, librarian at the Park Hill branch, and Leslie Williams, librarian at the Pauline Robinson branch, provided an update on a program that libraries all over the country have launched. The idea is to have libraries help to connect community leaders and help be change agents to identify and tackle some of the most important issues of concern. “We want to leverage our place in the community so people feel safe and can have these conversations,” Bannon Wiliamson said.  Two conversations – one in April, and another in July – resulted in several areas of interest emerging in Park Hill. These include: desire for a shared identity (i.e. a unified Park Hill), and working to achieve and protect social and economic diversity and equity. Other critical topics identified in Park Hill are the need for civility, economic inclusivity and care and safety for vulnerable populations. See this month’s At the Library column on page 18 for upcoming programs designed to continue community dialogue.

Upcoming DPS Election

Park Hill resident Eve Cohen highlighted the activities of Our Denver, Our Schools, a group of parents and teachers who want to get information out about problems, and proposed solutions, in Denver Public Schools. She noted that the school board election is this November, and that Park Hill residents will have the opportunity to vote in several of the contested races. Our Denver, Our Schools has endorsed Tay Anderson, a recent DPS graduate, for District 4, and Robert Speth, who is running for an at-large board seat. For more information, check out the group’s website at

Zoning Variance At 4836 E. 18th Ave.

Architect Rebecca Alexis provided an overview of the work proposed for the residence at 4836 E. 18th Ave. The owners want to expand the home, which is currently 2,643 square feet, to make space to care for their aging parents. The project includes adding a main floor bedroom and relocating AC units to expand the dining room. The GPHC board approved a letter of support for the zoning variance, with 15 in favor, and none opposed.

Sense of Healing

Joe Gira, owner of Sense of Healing dispensary, provided an update on plans to move to Park Hill. He is relocating the marijuana business from 10th and Federal, to 3900 E. 48th Ave. Plans are to open in December as a medical dispensary, and pursue a recreational license later. The company has 8-10 employees.

Vision Zero

Jill Locantore from Vision Zero provided an update on her group’s goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2030, as well as reducing accidents that cause severe injuries. In 2016, there were a total of 61 traffic fatalities in Denver, including 22 cyclists and five pedestrians. The Vision Zero concept originated in Sweden in 1990s, with really good success, she said. Locantore highlighted five themes to help achieve the goal:

• Enhance city processes and collaboration (funding and staff, enacting needed policy or legislative change)

• Building safe streets for everyone (updating street design guidelines, implementing safety treatments, establishing more pedestrian crossings, etc.)

• Creating safe speeds (including data collection, street design, etc.)

• Promoting a culture of safety (changing how we all think about safety)

• Improving data and being transparent (establishing official crash data source, measuring safety impacts and reporting back to the community)

Learn more at


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