Photos and Text by Basha Cohen
The Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation (SLPF) is on a mission to #SaveSloansLake. The jewel of northwest Denver is losing the very asset it needs to stay afloat: water. Today, the lake has an average depth of 3 1/2 feet, versus 18 feet in the not-so-distant past.
The foundation works with Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR), District 1 City Councilwoman Amanda P. Sandoval, water engineers, community leaders and citizens to raise funds and awareness of its cause. Jamming on the Jetty has been its main annual fundraiser, but the foundation is gaining momentum and seeking ways to further engage the community.
On June 3, The Sloan’s Lake Wide Open, the first putt-putt bar crawl, put the swing in fundraising for the lake’s preservation. There were 300 “Caddyshack”-esque golfers kookily clad in argyle, plaid, sequins, visors, wigs, plus-fours and sassy skirts. They were primping, posing and putting their way through the six-hole course in neighboring bars and restaurants.
Leah Rounds, a board member with the West Colfax Association of Neighbors, said, “We heard the cheering coming from Side Pony on West Colfax all day long!”
The shotgun-style tournament meant golfers could go in any order to six local bars and restaurants around the south side of Sloan’s Lake including two newbies to the food and cocktail scene, Side Pony on West Colfax and Vatos Tacos & Tequila on Raleigh Street. Neighborhood pioneers hosted holes as well, at Barfly, Sloan’s Tap & Burger, Odell Brewing and The Patio at Sloan’s.
The lines at each hole, in spite of the gloomy skies, forecasted bright and sunny sales as crowds packed into every venue whooping, high-fiving and tilting a variety of specialty cocktails for the day.
Restaurateurs and volunteers from SLPF built amazingly creative “greens” that were decorated with beer barrels, liquor bottles, pinwheels, plastic gizmos, bridges and tunnels. Side Pony staff designed their own as a hilarious send-up of their name with pink plastic ponies and pinwheels nestled in the Espolon bottles.
Owner Jen Sevecik was slinging her own signature margaritas behind the packed bar. She said excitedly, “We are so thrilled to be a part of the rejuvenation of West Colfax and the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood. Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation truly aced it today. To support a cause as near and dear to our hearts and bring new friends together at Side Pony made us feel like champions!”
The 19th-hole after-party at Odell Brewing was packed to the rafters as winners for best outfits and lowest scores were presented by SLPF Chairman Glenn Witman and Kurt Weaver, master lake advocate and event director for the foundation.
Jessica Andersen, associate project manager for parks planning at DPR, welcomed the crowd with a teaser of the Sloan’s Lake Environmental Assessment. DPR’s goal is to study the current issues surrounding the lake that require environmental improvements to remain a resilient ecosystem and recreational amenity.
“First, we need to define the scope of the problem and then its costs, whether it is $10 million or $50 million to begin the process of funding,” Andersen said.
Andersen kick-started the first in a series of community conversations recently with Scott Gilmore, DPR’s deputy executive director; Sandoval; SLPF board representatives; and concerned community members to outline DPR’s work on the Sloan’s Lake Environmental Assessment. There will be a follow-up session in July. (The Denver North Star will alert readers to the date once finalized.) They will also be at the Dragon Boat Festival to begin spreading the word on July 22 and 23.
SLPF is working with DPR now to host an educational “walk-and- talk around the lake” to understand the issues and potential solutions. To weigh in, take the survey to help DPR collect information regarding a study specific to the body of water within Sloan’s Lake Park.
The survey closes on June 21 at surveymonkey. com/r/SloansLakeEA1. All of the money raised from the putt-putt bar crawl will support the foundation’s work and mission to restore Sloan’s Lake to its former glory and make it the gem of northwest Denver once again. Join us again at Jamming on the Jetty on Sept. 16.
Basha Cohen is the vice chair of the Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation.