After months of cleanup and restoration work, Civic Center park has been almost entirely reopened to visitors in the heart of Denver. Mind the signs. Many of the park’s grassy areas are for permitted events only.
As highlighted in a map provided to The Denver Post this past week, a majority of the Civic Center park grass along Broadway, West 14th Avenue and West Colfax Avenue is no longer completely fenced off. However, those areas remain officially closed to the public.
Part of the reason for those closures is to protect the now reinvigorated grass that had been worn down to dirt in some places, city officials said. Crews had to reseed, aerate and irrigate chunks of the park, work that isn’t quite over yet.
“Those fences will remain up on the east side of the park until that’s complete,” Denver Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Cyndi Karvaski said. “As far as stopping and standing on that side of the park, that will not be allowed. That will just be for pass-through only.”
Grass protection is not the only motivation for the new rules, Karvaski said. Before the park was temporarily shut down on Sept. 15, city officials cited public health and safety concerns including rampant drug activity that left the area strewn with needles and other paraphernalia.
“We wanted to keep that illegal drug activity away,” Karvaksi said. “To deter that we are actually not going to allow any type of remaining in that part of the park.”
The grass closure is highlighted on several green and white signs that have been placed around the park. Set in concrete, the markers say, “Thank you for your cooperation!”
How long those grassy areas will remain closed is not clear.
“I don’t know about perpetuity,” Karvaski said, “but they will be closed for the foreseeable future.”
The great lawn, the largest section of grass in the park, located on the west side across from the Denver City and County Building, has been open to the public since November. The central plaza area between the Greek Theater and the Voorhies Memorial is also open for people who want to spend time in the park.
The other grassy areas will be available for permitted events, as highlighted on the signs there. The park, which last month hosted the Mile High 420 Festival, should see plenty of big events this spring and summer.
The complete summer events calendar won’t come out for another week or so, but Eric Lazzari, director of the Civic Center Conservancy, confirmed a few upcoming dates. The conservancy is the nonprofit organization that handles programming for the more than century-old landmark park.
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Civic Center Eats, the weekly event during which food trucks line the central plaza and invite outdoor diners, will return on May 19 and will take place every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through at least Sept. 1, Lazzari said.
Civic Center Moves, a free fitness class program, will return on May 17 and the first annual cleanup day in the park is coming up on May 21, Lazzari said. Civic Center has also been reserved for the annual Cinco de Mayo festival on May 7 and 8.
Lazzari isn’t questioning the city’s decisions on how to manage the grassy areas on the east side of the park. They’re the experts, he said.
“We would certainly expect as we begin back Civic Center Eats if people are looking for shade and things like that, that is one of the areas that will be available to them,” he said.
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