'We Need To Take Back The Park' Says Top OfficialBy Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Denver plans to shut down Civic Center Park due to crime, safety, sanitation and a host of other issues. The closure will happen on Sept. 15.

(credit: CBS)

“It’s not safe to walk through the park,” said Scott Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director of Parks and Recreation, during a phone interview Tuesday morning with CBS4.

“We need to take back the park,” said Gilmore, noting several violent incidents in and around the park recently.

He told CBS4 the closure would likely last at least two months, but could go longer.

(credit: CBS)

“The current challenges within Civic Center Park have reached a tipping point, creating conditions that put the public’s health and safety at risk,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement. “This cannot and will not be allowed to continue. This is the people’s park and we are taking steps so that everyone can once again feel safe and welcomed there.”

The city has closed down the “signature park” before for similar issues. Gilmore said rodent issues continue to plague the park as people leave food strewn around the area, bringing out rats. He said the park’s camera system would be upgraded during the closure to “cover the whole park.” Additional lighting upgrades will also happen throughout the park.

Additionally, Gilmore said turf would be restored, trees will be rehabilitated and a plan will be put in place to keep park rangers in Civic Center park “nonstop.”

The city said that the unsafe conditions include litter and food waste that attracts bugs and rodents, dozens of rodent burrows, human and pet waste, improperly discarded needles and other drug paraphernalia. They also said that excessive amounts of trash have accumulated each day, including discarded food and human and hazardous waste.

Gilmore said city administrators were still working on fencing and other issues but the plan is to close the park on Sept. 15.

Organizers of scheduled events in Civic Center Park are being contacted for relocation to other park properties.

RELATED: Denver Mayor Says Conditions At Civic Center Park ‘Cannot And Will Not Be Allowed To Continue’

Brian Maass