Saturday, October 03, 2009

Denver's La Alma Rec Center in jeopardy

This is a call to all old, ex, present and future Denver Westsiders, or anyone whose heart still rings from the Westside's history and culture. You know who you are.

The Alma Rec Center, located in Lincoln Park, not far across from Speer Boulevard from Downtown Denver, sits on the sight of the oldest Chicano neighborhood predating Denver as a city. The neighborhood had much of its vitality cut out when the state chose it as the site for construction of the Auraria Higher Education Center. But the Westside did not die.

Now, Denver's Mayor John W. Hickenlooper has submitted his 2010 budget with all manner of budget cuts and reorganization, but his plans for La Alma Rec Center amount to shutting it down, and possibly privatizing it to the Boys Club, or some other entity with political ties to Denver's good-old-boy club.

Rather than finding sufficient money to keep La Alma open, Hickenlooper is attempting "to transition four recreation centers that serve few residents (including Globeville and La Alma recreation centers) to organizations who can offer more valued services to the community." Once that step is taken, it's unlikely it will ever be reversed. The community rec center will become a business where the bottom line, not community service, will prevail.

The entire rec center: Gym, Meeting Room, Pool (Outdoor), Showers, Weight Room, Playground, Amphitheater, Outdoor Pool, Horseshoe Pits, Multi-purpose Field (Lacrosse, Rugby, Soccer), Tennis Court, Volleyball Court; all the programs offered: Senior Art Class, Thanksgiving Senior Luncheon, Su Teatro Live Theatre Program and Performance, Bridge Project Art Class, Art Museum Tour and Lunch, Mural Art Class, Denver Zoo Educational trip, Botanic Gardens Visit Day, Frontline Nutrition Program, Fitness, Health and Wellness Programs, like the Adult Yoga/Aerobics (6 weeks), Senior Low Impact Aerobics, Summit Cancer Solutions, Senior Coffee & Card Games, After School Snack Program, Idaho Springs Cave Pool Day Trip, Community Meeting for La Alma, Halloween Community Party, Pre-Season Basketball Clinic--all of this and more could become things of the past. They are excluded from the Mayor's "core services that are most critical to our citizens."

This is more than a Chicano issue, as it will detrimentally affect all age groups, nationalities, income levels, though of course, those least able to afford a privatized service, will be denied the most. Please forward this to anyone you know who has their roots, hearts or at least minds in helping to prevent the loss of a center that has served to make life more livable and meaningful since before the founding of Denver.

Below is the informational flyer being circulated by Westside residents:

A Community Forum
The closure of La Alma Recreation Center will be the topic.
The closure is opposed by councilwoman Judy Montero, District 9.
Join us at the Denver Inner City Parish
1212 Mariposa St.
Thursday, Oct. 8th at 6:00pm
Food will be provided.
303-629-0636 for more info
Come, be informed, ask questions, and voice your opinions.

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