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Barricades Meant To Deter Gang Activity Installed At Holly Square In Park Hill

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DENVER (CBS4) – Some people who live near Holly Square are unhappy about an addition to their neighborhood — concrete barricades. They are blocking the intersection of 33rd Avenue and Hudson Street, a main entry into Holly Square.

The city says the barricades are there to deter crimes like drive-by shootings and drug deals. Their installation was apparently a surprise to the Park Hill neighborhood residents.

The barricades at Holly Square (credit: CBS)

The barricades at Holly Square (credit: CBS)

Those that CBS4 spoke to say the concrete barricades basically showed up overnight. Even the area’s redevelopment group says they only found out after they were put in place.

The barricades are temporary while the city looks for something more permanent. The community hopes to be part of that discussion this time around.

In 2008 a fire destroyed six businesses and caused more than $2 million in damage at the Holly Square Shopping Center. Investigators say it was the result of gang activity that has continued in the area over the years.

The fire in 2008 (credit: CBS)

The fire in 2008 (credit: CBS)

“I had my grandkids going in there one morning and I witnessed a drive-by. A youngster got shot. Thank God it didn’t hit any of my grandkids,” a Park Hill resident said.

Today Holly Square has been rebuilt with a library, youth center and Boys and Girls Club, making it popular for children. But the city says safety is still a big concern and in order to combat some of the crime they’ve added the concrete barriers.

“Those barricades are there because we have had a rash of concerns and actually incidents of shootings in the area; and working with the neighbors and the police department, they felt it was best to create the detour,” Mayor Michael Hancock said.

Hancock says police in the area have already seen changes, but community members say they have as well and are now speaking out about not being asked for input in the first place.

“It could have its advantages in the long run but I think they could have gotten some community input before just putting it in here,” the resident said.

The city says they did have those discussions before putting up the barricades, but HARP, the Holly Area Redevelopment Project, says their group was also not included and should have been.

“The majority of the folks were very surprised the barricades went down. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a conversation going on, it’s just who that conversation was with and it didn’t go to the wider community,” HARP Chairman Geri Grimes said.

Either way the city says going forward things will be different

“Let’s take this and learn from it,” Hancock said.

HARP and Denver Public Works have both said they are now working together on a more long-term solution. They are having a community meeting Monday at 6:15 p.m. at the Hope Center where they will be presenting alternative ideas to the barricades.

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