August 15 Letters to the Editor

The Denver North Star strives to show multiple viewpoints and will publish Letters to the Editor in both support and opposition when different perspectives are sent. At times, only LTEs with one view were received and the letters published represent that. The opinions expressed in letters are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily express the opinions of The Denver North Star team.

Do you have an opinion you want to share? We welcome your letter.

Please send your letter of 250 words or fewer, along with your name and the neighborhood you live in, to Letters must be received by the 3rd of the month to run in that month’s issue. 

Preference will be given to letters focused on North Denver specific subjects.

If you’re interested in discussing a longer guest column, please email ahead of time to discuss that possibility as well. We look forward to hearing from you!

In response to Jason Hornyak’s piece ‘Chaffee Park says Yes in my Backyard’.

Mr. Hornyak implied that RNO’s restrict development and create zoning. City Councils set zoning laws, not RNO’s. RNOs assist members, generally home owners, in protecting the general interest of the neighborhood. A primary interest of a homeowner is the property value.

I agree that zoning codes contribute to exclusionary practices which exacerbate racial and economic divides. However, twenty years ago, when I moved to North Denver, we had stricter zoning codes and more diversity. While cities like Houston, TX, the largest US city without zoning laws, still has segregation and sprawl.

I believe that without zoning, our city would be shaped by developers rather than its citizens. Mr. Hornyak mentions the selfishness of homeowners as a cause of static policies. Zoning laws were initiated to protect residential areas from industrial development, see Euclid v. Ambler, 1926*.  Most cities around the country followed suit by creating Euclidean (Euclid, suburb in Cleveland, not mathematician) or single-use zoning protections.

You can’t blame selfish homeowners for out-of-control development in Denver. City council members accepted large sums in the form of donations from developers, which gave us Blueprint Denver, an erosion of zoning regulations. City council elections were impacted when homeowners realized developer’s interests had supplanted theirs. Thus we now have slot homes and reduced setbacks on our streets, e.g.: the over-development on Tennyson St.

Gentrification has driven property values higher, but that shouldn’t mean we sell out to the highest bidder or allow any type of building.  We can’t blame homeowners or RNO’s for static zoning.  We need to have discussions to create solutions for affordable housing and work together as a community to determine solutions amenable to all.  

—“Selfish” neighbor hoping for better solutions 
Joanne Terry
West Highland Neighborhood Assoc member
*Hist. Ref from Bloomberg Citylab Aug 6,2019 article by Benjamin Schneider:  “Zoning Codes”

Regarding the name change of the park on 38th and Navajo – Columbus Park vs. La Raza Park 

Based on the territorial legacy of this park between the Italian and Hispanic communities, the controversy over this name change appears little more than an extension of historical bickering. Both of these names and their histories are clearly exclusive. One honors Italian heritage, the other honors Hispanic heritage. The kiosko was erected to replace the pool in 1989, consists of neo-Aztec design, claims “La Raza” on its plaque, and will always dominate the park with Hispanic flavor no matter what name this little plot of land takes on. This was the idea behind building the pyramid in the first place. Building La Raza Kiosko while retaining the original Columbus Park name, only fueled and pitted this rivalry to be never-ending. The squabbles over this pool-turned-pyramid have often become violent and destructive. The way it appears from my “spectator” perspective is that the official name change simply proclaims this long-fought ethnic controversy as a victory for the Hispanic heritage, completing the “take over” that the pyramid began when the “Italian” pool was closed. 

At this point in history, it is our diversity that needs to be honored, not stoked. This neighborhood battle for ethnic dominance has never been more than two dogs marking their territory. That has been the consciousness from the beginning and it is no different today.  If you really wanted to represent “history”, you could tear down the pyramid and build a giant Claes Oldenburg fire hydrant sculpture and turn it into a multi-ethnic dog park. 

We can embrace our diversity or polarize it by continuing this grudge that will be seen as a victory for one ethnic group and a slap-in-the-face to another, propagating further resentment.  The solution to this problematic park name is beyond the single option you are considering which is based on whether a lost deed-of-sale can be found or whether a word that feels racist can be read as either racist or non-racist. We call it honoring history but our symbols also represent our present and future ideology, and as such, we should be aware of the effects these kinds of statements have on the present state of division within our society. Times are hopefully evolving in a more positive direction. A name could reflect the multi-ethnic nature of the hood today and offer hope that contributes to a larger context as we make history for generations to come. What reflects in our society at-large starts here in our neighborhoods. The re-naming of this park could be an aspiring symbol to help us rise above the ashes of the past with a vision towards the future, or not.

John Bonath
Sunnyside, 30 year neighbor of the park


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