DENVER - The Colorado Department of Transportation will auction off a parcel of land Thursday at 4601 Washington Street, where many Globeville residents were hoping CDOT or the City of Denver would build a park.
Last summer, Globeville resident Joseph Herrera started a petition advocating for the creation of a park, hoping trees and plants in the park would help filter pollution from I-70 traffic just a few feet away.
The plot of land backs up to Herrera's backyard.
“If you type in 80216, Globeville comes up as the most polluted zip code in the nation,” Herrera said. “I have migraines. My neighbor next door, his 13-year-old child is now developing headaches."
While most of the land is owned by CDOT, the land around the fence line and near an alley on the property is owned by the City and County of Denver.
Herrera says after a year of reaching out to CDOT, the City of Denver, and CDPHE, CDOT has started to clean the property periodically, which is, at times, littered with trash and broken glass. CDOT has also posted a “no littering” and a “for sale” sign.
In a statement to Denver7, CDOT communications manager for the Denver-metro region said:
"CDOT is required by statute to sell excess properties for fair market value. CDOT has followed all legal processes and requirements to sell the Washington Street property. As required, the property was first offered to all political subdivisions of the state to purchase at fair market value. No political subdivision of the state exercised their right. CDOT is now accepting bids from the public for the sale of the property with bids closing May 26. CDOT has continued to send maintenance patrols to inspect and maintain the property, including trash and debris removal. CDOT crews will make further sweeps to clean state maintained right-of-way."
Herrera says he hoped the City of Denver would buy the property and fulfill neighbors request of building a park. But the City of Denver said the price of the land was too high.
“The City of Denver said that $1.8 million was too much money for them to spend on buying the land,” Herrera said.
Herrera has also been in contact with Denver District 9 City Council Representative Candi CdeBaca, who represents the area where the land is located.
“There's been a lot of confusion on the CDOT side of things, because originally, they were going to give it to the city, and then at some point that changed,” CdeBaca said. “A million dollars is quite a bit to be asking. Especially when you think of things like reparations, this should go back to community. It is a publicly owned parcel.”
CdeBaca says a park right next to an interstate would not be consistent with safety goals, but there is a need for more green space in Globeville Elyria-Swansea.
“Given the considerations of harm that have been done to this community by this particular entity, CDOT, it should have been a no brainer to turn this into a tree lawn,” said CdeBaca.
Herrera says despite Thursday’s auction, he will continue to fight for more green space and pollution mitigation in his neighborhood.