By Cara DeGette
The following is a synopsis of what was discussed during the April 6 Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. monthly meeting. The next community meeting is Thursday, May 4 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at 2823 Fairfax St. It is free and open to the public, and everyone is welcome.
Brewmaster Chris Cunningham provided an update on plans to build a craft brewery at the southwest corner of 29th and Fairfax, in the building previously occupied by Eis Gelato. Cunningham, a chemical engineer by trade, is partnered with his wife Tauna Rignall and another couple (all of them also chemical engineers) on the venture.
“We have a lot of beer experience – both drinking and making it – since 1992,” Cunningham told the audience. The partners had long wanted to eventually open a craft brewery, he said, and when they found the old building – originally a grocery store – in the diverse north Park Hill neighborhood, they fast tracked their goals from a 5-year plan into a 1-year plan. Cunningham and his wife began renovations last fall, with the hope of opening this September.
“We don’t want to change the feel of the neighborhood, but rather give a nod to what it was in the past,” Cunningham said. “We want to be the kind of place where people come and talk. We want to be a gathering place, not just a business on a block.”
The brewery is not affiliated with the Park Hill Commons development that will be happening along much of the rest of the Fairfax business block, plans of which were detailed in the November and February issues of the newspaper.
Cunningham answered nine (plus one) questions from the crowd – which he termed as those most frequently asked about the brewery.
1. What is the seating capacity? The interior capacity will be 50, and patio maximum is 30.
2. The brewery will be on the south side of the building. What will be on the north side? That has not yet been determined, but Cunningham plans to rent to a compatible business.
3. Will there be an adverse effect on safety or surrounding property values? “Absolutely not,” Cunningham said. “We’re pretty serious about the responsible enjoyment of craft beer.”
4. Are you going to brew a wheat beer? Yes.
5. Will there be off-street parking? “We do not plan nor do we have the space for off-street parking,” Cunningham said. However, the new development on Fairfax will include ample new car parking on the block, which will be a good thing. The response resulted in a comment from a neighbor who lives nearby and is concerned about not being able to park close to her home. In addition, the neighbor was unhappy as nobody had previously talked to her or other immediate neighbors about the plans until now.
6. Will there be bike racks? “Absolutely,” Cunningham said. “We are huge bike fans and will encourage people to walk and ride their bikes.”
7. When do they plan to apply for a liquor license? In about three months. Cunningham said he and his partners need to obtain a manufacturer’s license first, and then apply for a liquor license. “We will engage with Greater Park Hill Community through the process,” he said.
8. What will be the hours of operation? The Cunninghams plan to be open no later than 9 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
9. Will there be food? “No, we don’t know anything about food,” Cunningham said, though he does plan to team up with food trucks to provide snacks to patrons, as is the practice for many craft breweries.
One final question: What’s the name of the brewery? “We currently have something on the order of 50 names,” Cunningham said. “I can guarantee we’ll have it narrowed down [to one name] by September.”
Biking? Walking? Good Luck
Piep Van Heuven and Jill Locantore from Denver Streets Partnership presented an update on the state of Denver’s streets and sidewalks.
Navigation can be difficult and dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, they noted, and – despite the mayor’s claim to want to be a bike-friendly city – funding is woefully inadequate, particularly compared to other cities (see accompanying chart).
In Denver, 26 people died in 2016 as a result of pedestrian or biking accidents – about one person every two weeks. More than a quarter of Denver streets don’t have sidewalks. And, at current funding levels, it will take 40-60 years to complete the bike network that has been developed for Denver. In addition, from 2013 until last year, the City of Denver allocated zero money for sidewalks. Last year, $2 million was approved.
Denver Streets Partnership is a consortium of six groups that have joined forces to advocate for a dedicated funding program to accelerate building the city’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
“We have a plan for a complete network, we are just not building it very fast,” Van Heuven said. “Denver is stuck without viable options and people don’t have the option to do anything but drive.”
The organizations are soliciting support from neighborhood organizations, and plan to submit letters to Mayor Michael B. Hancock and the city council seeking a plan for dedicated funding. “This is a battle to see what we value as the city,” Van Heuven said. “We’re excited that the mayor is out talking about his goal [to make Denver a pedestrian and bike-friendly city] and we’re helping him achieve it.”
At the end of the presentation, the board of GPHC unanimously voted to support Denver Streets Partnership’s efforts. Residents are also being urged to weigh in with their support. Visit www.denverstreetspartnership.org for more information and hit the “take action” button to message the Mayor and members of city council.
Be A Smartie, Not A Dummy
Maro Casparian, who works in the consumer protection division at the Denver District Attorney’s office, handed out Smarties and DumDum candies to people in the audience while talking about the rise of scammers and how to avoid being a target for identity theft and fraud.
Seniors are often being targeted for scams, but people ages 0-18 are also susceptible, Casparian said, citing an example of a 17-year old young woman who learned when she was applying for college loans that she had been a victim of identity theft her entire life. The thief had even purchased a home using the teenager’s name and identity. Casparian recommends making sure people shred documents that include personal information and social security numbers, and never tossing them intact into the trash.
Casparian said scammers prey on people by using fear – like calling them and claiming they are the Internal Revenue Service and are being investigated for tax fraud.
Also, people should avoid being talked into a sweet, or weird, deal. “If it sounds too bizarre to be true, or too good to be true, it is,” she said.
For more information on how to spot a fraud or a scam, check out the District Attorney’s website at denverda.org.
People who suspect they are victim of identity theft should call the fraud hotline at 720-913-9179.
Courtney Cotton from Denver city government provided an update on the status of the city’s switch from dumpsters to cans for trash, recycling and compost. The last phase will be complete in September. Removing dumpsters is designed to help eliminate illegal dumping and also assists police from having to deal with people who hide in dumpsters and hide items in dumpsters, she said.
Cotton reminded residents that the carts should be put out the night before pickup. Otherwise they should be stored in the garage, or in an inconspicuous site. Please do not leave them out in the open, as they are an eyesore. Some community members opined that they wished the city would step up its recycle program, and pick up recycling weekly rather than twice monthly.
Update from Councilman Herndon
City Councilman Chris Herdon addressed the crowd on several topics. First, he recommended residents watch a report recently produced by Rocky Mountain PBS about the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being. The campus, at 3401 Eudora St., provides an array of services to promote health and well-being, including a preschool, dental care, mental health services, a garden greenhouse and fish farm. The 8-minute program can be seen at pbs.org/newshour/bb/inclusive-wellness-center-oasis-neighborhood-left-behind/.
Herndon also provided brief updates and took a few questions from the audience related to composting and the capitol improvement bond package that voters will decide in November (committees are currently determining what projects will appear on the ballot), and the future of the Park Hill Golf Course.
Herndon also said that the city is planning to pursue a new master plan for the section of Park Hill that runs from Colorado Boulevard east to Quebec (and continuing to the easternmost edge of the city), between Colfax Avenue and 23rd Avenue.
Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. Executive Director Sierra Fleenor was out of town on her honeymoon, and so GPHC Chair Tracey MacDermott provided a brief update on the efforts of the neighborhood organization. In March, GPHC served 122 households via the food pantry program, and provided 163 weekend food boxes to area children. Check out page 19 for a complete rundown of events and activities being sponsored by the neighborhood association in May.
Venture Prep Update
Erin Quigley, the principal of Venture Prep Academy, provided a brief update on the school, which has moved from the Smiley campus and is now at the Barrett school building at 29th and Colorado Boulevard. Quigley noted the DSST school is small, with about 200 students. “We have a very positive nurturing environment,” she said.
D-2 Police Report
Denver Police Community Resource Officer Sharon Avandaño and Officer F. Martinez provided an update on crime and safety-related issues in Park Hill. In recent months there has been an increase in burglaries throughout the neighborhood. Avandaño recommended thwarting would-be burglars by investing in an alarm system. Also, she said, be a “nosy” neighbor and report suspicious activities on your block right away. “You may not want to be that neighbor but, be that neighbor,” Avandaño said.
Avandaño and Martinez reported that there has been some recent gang activity, but most of it is happening west of Park Hill. People should use the pocketgov tool to report graffiti, or call 3-1-1. District 2 has paint available in several colors if people want to paint over graffiti on their property.
Martinez noted that in March, two vehicles were broken into and there was also an attempted car theft. Police also responded to a call about shots fired at Oneida and Colfax, however they were unable to find any victims or witnesses and concluded it must have been a drug or prostitution deal gone awry.
Avandaño also reminded people that DPD is migrating its communications to its official Facebook page for information citywide. Beginning this month, items will no longer be posted on the NextDoor social media site. People are encouraged to report any suspicious activity at the non-emergency dispatch number, 720-913-2000, and to reserve 9-1-1 calls for crimes that in progress. Follow the Denver Police Department on Twitter @DenverPolice.