What do Denver and New York City have in common? If you’re a longtime Denverite, you may be shocked to learn that both cities lead the country in lack of park space. You may not have noticed the slow erosion over the last two decades of our city’s green spaces.
Or, you may very well be nodding your head.
The “city within a park” has gotten itself into a pickle. According to an analysis earlier this year in the Denver Post, in the mid-1970s, less than 20% of Denver was paved or built over. Today, it’s nearly 50%. By 2040, it could be 69%. Densification is so extreme that the same city that once boasted that one couldn’t go a mile without hitting a green space now needs to pay $5.1 million to build a new park.
Where’s the $5.1 million for the new park in University Hills coming from? A sales tax increase voted last November. So while the city has been happily giving away our green spaces to private developers for high rises and shopping complexes, it’s the citizens who have to shell out for a little corner of green space.
It’s not only the fact that Denver is nearly last in park acres per resident nationally. It’s about the environment. It’s how densification increases temperatures, which means using more resources to stay cool. It’s about increases in stormwater runoff due to lack of natural water drainage. Look at what happened in Houston, a city paved in concrete.
Denver has long prided itself as the City Beautiful. It’s time to stop living in the past. Denver has managed to maintain the charade that it is a green city. But people are waking up. If Denver truly wants to be a green, this must become a city priority — as it was in Mayor Robert Speer’s day.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at email@example.com.
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