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Letters to the Editor

Park or Plaza? We Need Both

The “Park Hill Commons” development will include 22 micro-apartments, 21 three-bedroom townhomes, 8,500 square feet of restaurant space, 6,200 square feet of “microretail” units, and 10,000 square feet of office space. All of this, plus 96 parking spaces, will be slotted into the east side of the block between 28th and 29th Avenues on Fairfax Street.

It’s a good thing that the developer’s plans include “The Square at Park Hill Commons,” also called “The Space.” Given the density, the 2800 block of Fairfax Street is going to need both the pocket park promised by Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR) on the Xcel lot on the west side and developer HM Capital’s proposed plaza on the east side.

HM’s website says “one of the features of Park Hill Commons is The Space, a central park where residents and business owners can gather for conversation, outdoor activities and events.” The pictures of The Space presented by HM Capital on its website (at parkhillcommons.com/the-square/) show an empty grassy lawn. The plaza is ideal for tented events or movies for the residents and business owners. It is an economic amenity for Park Hill Commons. It is not a neighborhood park.

A park has trees, dogs on leashes, loud boisterous children, ball play, picnic tables, barbecues, music, Frisbees, etc.

Denver Parks and Recreation staff has stated on several occasions that the Xcel parcel on the west side of the street would be a Denver park.  Denver then entered into discussions with HM Capital to swap the Xcel parcel for the plaza, and designate the plaza as a Denver Park. If this happens, the Xcel lot will be a parking lot rather than a park, and subject to development of a three-story building at a later date.

Greater Park Hill Community passed a Resolution on Nov. 2, asking the City:

• Not to swap parcels with HM Capital

• To designate the former Xcel property before the park is developed, protecting this valuable property from commercial exploitation.

• To engage in a collaborative process with the Park Hill community to develop a pocket park on the former Xcel property.

Last fall, Greater Park Hill Community sponsored several community meetings to create a plan for the pocket park on the Xcel lot. The plan incorporated feedback from the community, and was a shared vision of what the community wants in a park. Trees, a place to sit, multiple areas for children to play, NO basketball court. The plan was sent to Denver Parks and Recreation as a starting point for the development of the park.

We understand Denver Parks and Recreation did not follow its stated process for community involvement, and is now holding four additional community meetings to discuss the Xcel lot. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we urge DPR to use the plan developed by neighbors, and provide their expertise and input on the various elements neighbors have expressed wanting in the park on the Xcel lot.

To ensure that we get our promised pocket park, we ask that Councilman Chris Herndon introduce an ordinance in Council to designate the former Xcel lot as a Denver park. This will prevent the swap or another sale of the Xcel lot by the city without a vote of the people.

With the density that will come with the development of Park Hill Commons, the neighborhood will need both the plaza on the east side and the pocket park on the west side. We urge HM Capital to proceed with development of its plaza and to also support the designation of the Xcel lot for a pocket park.

Denise Washington & Maria Flora, Park Hill

Editor’s Note: Denver Parks & Recreation is holding two meetings in April to talk about the neighborhood park, including the proposed land swap The meetings are April 3 and 17, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Stedman Elementary school, 2940 Dexter St. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Amazing Results At DSST

I am writing in response to the March article on Equity in Education. I am glad to see the focus of the Park Hill Neighbors for Equity in Education and wanted to point out that there are wonderful examples of these ideals that are here in our neighborhood and working very well.

I’ve got kids at two DSST schools and for a total of seven school years we’ve been thoroughly impressed. The student body largely reflects the overall DPS population in terms of its diversity and yet the consistently rigorous curriculum is producing amazing results – for my children and (I’m not an expert on school data, but) most who attend. They are intentional about equity and inclusion and, though no school is perfect, have a culture of accountability that teaches students how to address injustice. The community created at DSST by committed and talented teachers and staff is something noteworthy for anyone concerned about equity in urban education.

I would love for all students to be academically challenged in a supportive environment like DSST, so I commend the efforts of this group. However, I also suggest taking a deeper dive into models that are working to understand how best practices can be replicated elsewhere.

Lara Jakubowski, Park Hill

See You At The Pizza Truck

On March 31, Allegra’s Pizza closed its bricks and mortar pizzeria in the Oneida Park Center. The landlord did not renew our lease as he has different plans for the building. After an exhaustive search for another space in the neighborhood, we concluded that the prices for commercial rents currently make it virtually impossible to sell pizza.

The good news is we will be transitioning the business to our pizza truck. The truck will have a permanent location in the parking lot of the Philips/Odyssey Elementary School on 21st Avenue and Monaco Parkway. It will be readily accessible in the parking lot for easy drive up and walk up.

Initially the truck will be open on Friday and Saturday evenings.  Our first night will be Friday, May 18. Our phone number and web site page will remain as is for the ordering process. Then you simply pick up at the pizza at the truck. Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to have delivery service.

I, along with my wife Christine and daughter Allegra, extend our sincerest thank you to all our customers/friends who have not only supported us over the years, but have brought real joy. You all made it possible for me to “live my dream” and to enjoy all the interactions with you, which hopefully fostered community in the neighborhood.

As an aside, the business took us from Allegra working at the pizzeria as a student at East High School, through college, and now she is three months away from getting her K-6 Colorado teachers license. What a ride. Thank you everyone!

Tony Uva, Owner, Allegra’s Pizza, Park Hill

Editor’s Note: Past coverage of the Park Hill Commons project and equity in schools can be read online at greaterparkhill.org. We love your letters, and give preference to those that address an issue that has been covered in the newspaper, or a topic that is Park Hill or Denver-specific. Send letters to editor@greaterparkhill.org. Deadlines are the 15th of each month, for the following month’s issue.


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