Park Hill’s Rec Center Gyms, Pools Closed Until Further Notice
As the vaccine rollout has picked up at a steady clip, so too has the re-openings of publicly accessible recreation centers — at least in surrounding cities and metro districts. Denver itself has been far slower to reopen.
Last month, the Denver Parks and Recreation Department announced a schedule to partially and fully reopen the city’s 30 recreation centers and pools beginning May 3 and through the end of the year, including its gyms, fitness centers and swimming pools. All have been closed for a year.
For Park Hill’s two rec centers and others nearby, expect to wait a whole lot longer.
At Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center at 33rd and Holly Street, “We have not yet determined when we will be able to open the indoor swimming pool or fitness sites,” said Cyndi Karvaski, spokeswoman for the Parks and Rec department. (Beginning May 3, the center will be open for its youth meals program and MyDenver card activities for youth.)
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center at 3880 Newport St. is currently closed and isn’t scheduled to reopen at all until sometime in the 4th quarter of this year — meaning October at the earliest. The activities available at [MLK] late in the year have not yet been determined,” Karvaski said. “Updates and additional details will be added to our website as they become available.”
The weight and cardio rooms at the Carla Madison Recreation Center at Colfax and York west of Park Hill, will be open beginning May 3 with limited hours and by reservation only. However, the lap and aerobics pool isn’t currently scheduled to open until Aug. 16.
The weight and cardio rooms at the Montclair Recreation Center in Lowry, at 729 Ulster Way, are currently scheduled to open beginning June 7 for limited hours and by reservation only. The pool at Montclair is not currently scheduled to open until Aug, 16.
The remaining closest rec center to Park Hill — Central Park, in the former Stapleton neighborhood — will not open its weight and cardio rooms or its lap or its water aerobics pool until Aug. 16.
Denver’s eight outdoor pools are scheduled to open June 7 through Aug. 14. Depending on where you live in Park Hill, the closest outdoor pool to the neighborhood is in Congress Park, in Five Points or in Globeville.
Karvasky said that the department’s 137 full-time employees were redeployed last year to work in other capacities, including in emergency shelters, student learning labs, and more recently vaccination clinics. Approximately 1,500 part-time hourly employees who previously staffed the rec centers were laid off at the start of the pandemic. Rehiring and retraining new employees, she said, will take time — as well as ensuring that rec centers will be able to reopen safely.
By contrast, many public recreation centers in cities surrounding Denver have already opened at least partially, operating within state and county public health guidelines. The rec center in Wheatridge is open, including its pool. Westminster, with six recreation centers, is also open, with limited class sizes and a reservation-only system. Four of the six recreation centers in Aurora have reopened, including two of its public pools, also using a reservation system. The Glendale recreation center, managed by the YMCA of the Rockies, never completely shut down during the pandemic, though it implemented strict public health guidelines.
Karvasky cautioned against any comparisons, however, between other cities and counties and Denver in terms of reopening capabilities. “If we only had to open six rec centers with staffing [instead of 30] we would probably have an easier go of it,” she said.
A complete schedule of the planned phased openings for all the centers is at denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Parks-Recreation.
Who Let The Dogs Out?
Mary Francis estimates there are 158,000 dogs in Denver — more than there are children under 18. The 12 existing dog parks, she says, are not enough to meet dogs’ exercise and socialization needs.
The Denver resident has launched a petition seeking to put pressure on the city to allow dogs to be allowed off their leashes in certain public parks between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. Francis detailed her proposal to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee during its March monthly Zoom meeting.
At least one fellow dog owner expressed support. But Anne Stanwick, a 40-year resident of Denver, had some serious doubts. In addition to the likelihood of increased attacks, she said unleashed dogs certainly promise more poop. During a recent stroll through a Denver park, Stanwick said, she and a companion counted 44 piles of dog poop left behind by irresponsible owners — on average of one every 15 feet.