Denver will temporarily shut down its Civic Center Park beginning next week to address unsanitary conditions and environmental and safety concerns after the discovery of human waste, discarded needles and other items in the area, officials said Tuesday.
“The current challenges within Civic Center Park have reached a tipping point, creating conditions that put the public’s health and safety at risk. This cannot and will not be allowed to continue,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a news release announcing the closure.
The closure will impact a majority of the park, which sits across from the City and County Building, as well as the area across the street around the Pioneer Monument Fountain and the MacIntosh Park Plaza, according to a city map outlining the targeted areas.
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In recent weeks, officials with the city department of Public Health & Environment have found a number of issues at the public, a national historic landmark, including litter and food waste, rodent infestation, human and pet waste, discarded needles and other drug paraphernalia.
In addition, parts of the park have become hotspots of violence, crime and drug use, the city said.
“This is the people’s park and we are taking steps so that everyone can once again feel safe and welcomed there,” Hancock said.
The Civic Center area, which includes the park, has been the scene of a number of violent crimes, according to The Denver Post. A homicide was reported in the area on Aug. 6 and a pair of assaults occurred nearby last week.
Images posted on social media showed fencing and barriers that will be used to seal off the area from the public.
During the closure, the city will perform an extensive cleanup and restoration of the park, including tree trimming, lighting upgrades and improvements to the park’s irrigation system. No reopening date was announced.
Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director of parks and recreation, told KCNC-TV that the park will most likely be closed for two months. The city said outreach teams will working with the homeless to connect them with housing and other services.
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“It’s not safe to walk through the park,” he told the news outlet. “We need to take the park back.”
He said turf at the park will be restored to combat rodent infestation and a plan will be worked up to station park rangers in the area “nonstop,” he said.
Fox News has reached out to the city parks and recreation department and the Civic Center Conservancy, the caretaker of the park.