As delegates from 49 states continue to debate, vote on resolutions to document violations of our Constitution and make recommendations to representatives in Washington, the drama of Constitutional rights plays out in cities, towns and neighborhoods across our country. It is well established that the maintenance and restoration of our Republic and its myriad communities must derive from our 10th Amendment enumerated powers, which states that all powers not specifically designated to the Federal government reside with the States and the People. Thus the crucial importance of Community. One such poignant example is La Alma Rec Center in Westside Denver near Lincoln Park.
According to Blogspot’s La Bloga,
The Alma Rec Center, located in Lincoln Park, not far across from Speer Boulevard from Downtown Denver, sits on the sight of the oldest Chicano neighborhood predating Denver as a city. The neighborhood had much of its vitality cut out when the state chose it as the site for construction of the Auraria Higher Education Center. But the Westside did not die.
Now, Denver’s Mayor John W. Hickenlooper has submitted his 2010 budget with all manner of budget cuts and reorganization, but his plans for La Alma Rec Center amount to shutting it down, and possibly privatizing it to the Boys Club, or some other entity with political ties to Denver’s good-old-boy club.
Rather than finding sufficient money to keep La Alma open, Hickenlooper is attempting “to transition four recreation centers that serve few residents (including Globeville and La Alma recreation centers) to organizations who can offer more valued services to the community.” Once that step is taken, it’s unlikely it will ever be reversed. The community rec center will become a business where the bottom line, not community service, will prevail.
The entire rec center: Gym, Meeting Room, Pool (Outdoor), Showers, Weight Room, Playground, Amphitheater, Outdoor Pool, Horseshoe Pits, Multi-purpose Field (Lacrosse, Rugby, Soccer), Tennis Court, Volleyball Court; all the programs offered: Senior Art Class, Thanksgiving Senior Luncheon, Su Teatro Live Theatre Program and Performance, Bridge Project Art Class, Art Museum Tour and Lunch, Mural Art Class, Denver Zoo Educational trip, Botanic Gardens Visit Day, Frontline Nutrition Program, Fitness, Health and Wellness Programs, like the Adult Yoga/Aerobics (6 weeks), Senior Low Impact Aerobics, Summit Cancer Solutions, Senior Coffee & Card Games, After School Snack Program, Idaho Springs Cave Pool Day Trip, Community Meeting for La Alma, Halloween Community Party, Pre-Season Basketball Clinic–all of this and more could become things of the past. They are excluded from the Mayor’s “core services that are most critical to our citizens.”
This is more than a Chicano issue, as it will detrimentally affect all age groups, nationalities, income levels, though of course, those least able to afford a privatized service, will be denied the most. Please forward this to anyone you know who has their roots, hearts or at least minds in helping to prevent the loss of a center that has served to make life more livable and meaningful since before the founding of Denver.
Since that time, Sgt. Dean J. Sanchez, USMC, who was raised in the community and for whom the Center has played an important part, spent fourcombat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan working toward building up communities in those countries only to learn upon his homecoming in September that due to the economy and poor governance, he is losing HIS community.
We have learned that Denver is currently building two new rec centers even though they are closing four others in poor neighborhoods, claiming budget deficits.
Yesterday’s CC09 presentation by Michael Shaw on Property discussed some of the issues inherent as non governmental organizations’ partnering with government is on the rise, allowing government to abandon its responsibility to community and taxpayer and to limit constitutional rights to property.
Destroying these community centers, the lifeblood of our neighborhoods, can only serve to eliminate the vital aspect of closeness and familiarity that create them. The people who live there are quick to voice their dismay at this latest series of events as reported by the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels:
More than 100 passionate west-siders begged Denver city officials tonight not to mess with a recreation center that’s considered the heart of the community.
Young and old, some angry and some fighting back tears, showed up for a meeting to discuss ways to try to preserve the La Alma Recreation Center just southwest of downtown at 1325 W. 11th Ave.
Faced with a $120 million deficit, the city is considering privatizing part of La Alma, while having the parks department oversee and improve the pool.
“Privatizing La Alma is like blowing out a candle,” said neighborhood resident Chris Medina . “It is more than a neighborhood rec center. It is my home.”
He and others fear that letting a nonprofit operate La Alma would change its character and could be the first step in its closure.
Craig Peña, a Santa Fe Drive businessman, talked about the role of La Alma in people’s lives. He asked for a show of hands of how many people know “Rich from the rec center.”
Nearly everyone raised their hand. Rich, it turned out, is the janitor at La Alma.
“I appreciate … trying to balance our city budget, but I don’t appreciate it being done on the backs of the west side,” Peña said. “If privatizing were such a great idea it would be done all over the city. Don’t start with us. Start with Wash Park.”
The mention of one of Denver’s more toney rec centers brought cheers from the crowd assembled at the Denver Inner City Parish near La Alma.
The neighborhood feels pummeled by the city, not only because of the rec center issue but also a proposal to close Byers Library on Santa Fe Drive because of lack of use.
Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero, who represents the district, praised residents for banding together to fight the city.
“This is your neighborhood,” she said. “We have to keep going forward and raising our voices.”
True to the American spirit, as delegates gather in St. Chales, Illinois, West Denver neighborhood members are gathering and working to save their Community. They are asking everyone to join with them to show political leaders that they are disgusted with the way government gives preferred treatment to big business and overseas communities, [e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan] at the sacrifice of American communities and constituents.
For instance, Denver’s Mayor Hickenlooper brought the 2008 DNC Convention to Denver at an approximate taxpayer expense of 53 Million Dollars, resulting in a 160 million dollar budget gap in 2009 which he expects to close by shutting down community centers, libraries and forcing city employees to take unpaid furloughs to offset the loss.
Community members are asking everyone to call, fax and send snailmail to:
201 West Colfax
Denver CO 80202
Mayor John W. Hickenlooper
1437 Bannock Street, Ste. 350
Denver, Colorado 80202
For further information on how to help and meeting times and locations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.