DenverElection 2018Hot Sheet

Hancock lends support to Denver ballot measure to boost parks

Author: Marianne Goodland - October 11, 2018 - Updated: October 11, 2018

Cuatro Vientos Park in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood. (Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will back a local ballot measure that seeks to upgrade many of the city’s parks, he announced Wednesday.

Parks have fallen behind on maintenance and upgrades, say Hancock and Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez. Ballot measure 2A would raise about $46 million through a sales tax hike of 2.5 cents on a $10 purchase.

The money would go toward paying for new parks and trail and open space areas; improving existing parks, including the city’s mountain parks; and restoring or improving waterways throughout the city. About 1,500 acres of parks would be improved under the ballot measure, according to city officials.

In a blustery Wednesday press conference at Cuatro Vientos Park, Hancock said he was lending his support to 2A because of the park maintenance backlog, which has accumulated as the city grew by 100,000 residents over the past seven years. Residents have said they want park improvements and to preserve “the uniqueness of place” in their neighborhoods. Parks bring neighbors together, Hancock said, and give them that sense of place.

Cuatro Vientos Park, near Denver’s western border with Lakewood, opened in 2014. It was the first park to open in the Westwood neighborhood in 30 years, Lopez said.

Lopez is now in his 11th year on the Denver City Council. It took his first seven to see Cuatro Vientos become reality.

The biggest reason? Money.

Money still plagues Denver parks today. Cuatro Vientos’s modern look stands in stark contrast to another park just two miles north: Joe P. Martinez Park, at 9th and Tennyson. The park, easily four times the size of Four Winds, is well maintained. But it’s also showing its 30 years of history. A concrete platform is crumbling. The park lacks picnic tables, barbecue grills and a place for parents to sit while their children play on playground equipment, which is shedding paint.

Joe P. Martinez Park in Denver. (Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics)

Denver is one of the only cities in the metro area that lacks a fund for maintaining its 14,000 acres of parks, said Denver City Council President Jolon Clark. Not having a dedicated fund also means Denver misses out on Colorado Lottery funds that could help with that effort, according to the ballot measure.

The biggest challenge to 2A is that it is one of four proposals seeking to raise taxes on Denver’s portion of the November ballot alone. If all four were to pass, it would hike city taxes by $116 million per year and boost the city’s sales tax rate from 3.65 percent to 4.31 percent.

And 2A faces competition from the two statewide ballot measures that also seek to raise taxes: Amendment 73, a school funding proposal that goes after higher income-earners and corporate taxes, and Proposition 110, which would raise the state sales tax by 6 cents on a $10 purchase to fund transportation projects.

“This ballot is very concerning,” Hancock said, with serious priorities that voters will be asked to address.

Denver residents have some tough decisions to make, he said, but added that he will support measures “that are important to Denver today and Denver tomorrow. This is one of them.”

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.