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Could an Ombudsperson Help Mediate Denver Parks & Recreation Conflicts?

Could an Ombudsperson Help Mediate Denver Parks & Recreation Conflicts?

Pickleball. Dogs. Skateboarding.

These three things may seem like fairly mundane aspects of daily life, but they’ve become points of contention in Denver in recent months. The Department of Parks & Recreation and residents can’t seem to agree on what should be considered public fun and what could be deemed a public nuisance.

During an April 19 meeting over noise in the parks, recreation advocate David Riordon shared his idea for how to settle disputes: Appoint an official Parks & Recreation ombudsperson.

Like any ombudsperson, that individual would investigate complaints and act as a liaison between the city and its constituents, working to resolve conflicts. Others who were at the meeting were in favor of the idea.

“There is no real people’s voice for Denver Parks & Rec,” Riordon says, adding that an ombudsperson “could have the ability to take care of individual questions, concerns, comments.”

Riordon came up with the idea through his own experiences advocating for better skatepark infrastructure in the Mile High City. When he heard about a plan to build a skatepark at the abandoned Kenwood Dam spillway in southeast Denver, he got involved — but found that Denver officials weren’t open to his input.

He wanted the city to give permission for skateboarders to DIY the park — bringing in their own features while the city still had some measure of control. But that wasn’t going to happen owing to liability issues, city officials told him.

After several heated discussions, Riordon offered to meet with Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director of Parks & Recreation, over coffee to hash out their differences. That meeting never happened.

Read the complete article here.

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