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Denver Mayor: Conditions At Civic Center Park 'Cannot & Will Not Be Allowed To Continue'

DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Denver will temporarily shut down Civic Center Park due to a number of public health and safety problems, as first reported by CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says the current challenges have reached a tipping point.

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He says the conditions at Civic Center Park cannot and will not be allowed to continue.

"For as long as I've worked for the city, which has been 12 years, I have not seen it this bad in Civic Center Park," said Cyndi Karvaski, a spokeswoman with Denver Parks and Recreation. "We've had to have temporary closures, where it's just part of the park, but this is happening all throughout the park. That's what's makes it different. It's not just in a section where we can close one area. We need to actually address the entire park."

The city says trash and food waste are attracting rodents. Human and pet waste can be found throughout the grounds. Denver Parks and Recreation says there's frequent drug use in the park.

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Used needles could be seen throughout the area when CBS4 visited Tuesday afternoon.

"Disease can be easily spread through human waste, animal waste and improperly discarded syringes, which are quite abundant in this area right now," said Danica Lee, Director of Public Health Investigations Division. "There's a number of different diseases that are of concern."

The park will close until it's no longer a threat to public health. The city says it could take a few weeks to two months. When it reopens, the city hopes a cleaner and safer park will maintain.

"We're going to be adding additional staff. We're going to have more maintenance personnel in the park. We're also going to have more Rangers in the park, so we'll be able to maintain the park for its intended use," said Karvaski.

While the park is closed, the city will also restore turf and make upgrades to the irrigation system. Additional lighting is among the planned upgrades throughout the park.

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Mayor Hancock calls Civic Center Park the "people's park."

Some spend more time there than others, and the city says this closure is not meant to push them away.

"Everybody is welcome here. When there are hazards that accumulate, we have to take some action. This is not about restricting the activity of certain people. It is about restoring the onditions of the park and keeping it safe for all," said Lee.

When the park closes on Sept. 15, the city will provide outreach services to connect people experiencing homelessness with services and housing.

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