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Debate Over Whether To Ban Alcohol In Wash Park

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DENVER (CBS4) – With warm spring weather here, more people are gathering at Washington Park which puts it at the center of a debate over alcohol. Now there’s a proposal to ban drinking at the popular park.

In a letter addressed to Denver Parks and Recreation, Councilman Chris Nevitt explained that last summer his office constantly received complaints about drinking in Wash Park. Although those concerns may eventually put drinking at all parks in Denver up for review, only Wash Park is part of this debate.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Complaints included trash strewn across the park, overflowing portable toilets, belligerent drunken behavior and loud and occasionally violent confrontation between park goers and people who live in the neighborhood.

Nevitt added that a complete ban on alcohol in Wash Park is, “simple, straightforward to communicate and easy to enforce.”

Currently 3.2 percent alcohol is allowed in Denver parks but Nevitt argues much of these abuses his office sees are because some in Wash Park are clearly drinking hard liquor. He also said the increase in enforcement has not helped.

Others feel the proposal punishes those who do follow the rules.

“It’s a group that brings adults together, kind of away from their computer screen, away from their phones,” said Waka Kickball spokeswoman Lydia Rapp.

Rapp said beer is part of their sport, “It is a very big concern for us.”

“Let’s think this through a little more clearly before banning beer in Wash Park,” said Wash Park resident Sarah Spivey.

Spivey started an online petition against the beer ban just a few days ago. She collected more than 10,000 signatures.

“This isn’t an issue of beer. This isn’t an issue of alcohol in the park. This is an issue for a lack of management resources,” said Spivey.

Rapp said she worries the ban will lower the kickball and other leagues’ popularity.

“Enjoying a beer in the park with their friends is part of that experience,” said Rapp. “Punishing the thousands of people who come to the park and abide by the policies that are already in place, I think is just the wrong move.”

Officials with Denver Parks and Recreation are taking public comment at a meeting Wednesday night. They said that the only action they could take would be to establish a short-term or 180 day temporary ban.

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