NewsLocal News


Budget cuts and unfilled positions are impacting Denver parks

Posted at 5:01 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 22:38:44-04

DENVER — Over the past year Denverites along with the rest of the country have spent a lot of time outside.

Parks seems to be busier than ever before but the budget for the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation is still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"You know it’s just been challenging and we had to really make some adjustments because the revenue coming into the city dropped drastically," said Scott Gilmore, Deputy Director of Denver Parks and Recreation.

The department usually has about 200 part-time seasonal staff this time of year but right now there's only about 100 part-time staff. These workers help maintain the parks over the busy summer season so Gilmore is asking residents to be understanding.

"We’re getting the job done so don’t think the parks are going to fall apart or be in horrible shape, sometimes you might not see the edging as nice or the grass might be a little bit longer but we’re going to get to it and it just might take us a little more time," Gilmore said.

Gilmore spoke to Denver7 at Washington Park, one of the most heavily used parks in the city. His department has no way of knowing exactly how many people use the park but judging by the number of trash bags they're using the number of visitors has jumped during the pandemic. Gilmore said trash bag usage is up 45% in Wash Park and 43% in City Park.

"There’s certain things that we have to do in this park because of the sheer volume of people in this park every day," Gilmore said.

Gilmore said he has the budget to hire about 30 additional part-time staff but it's been difficult to fill those positions. He said some of the workers that typically return every season have found jobs elsewhere.

"Now we’re struggling to get those people back or find new people to replace those individuals," Gilmore said.

With staff stretched thin, Gilmore said it's also important to make sure some of the smaller parks throughout the city continue to be maintained at a high level.

"So a lot of those communities might be communities of color, lower income neighborhoods that traditionally have been neglected to be honest and so what we also do is we do try to make sure that those neighborhoods and those neighborhood parks that serve those communities that we’re putting a little extra effort into them," Gilmore said.