Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

It Was Fun While It Lasted: Pong Island Got Paddled by Parks & Rec

CCHN Members,
A family in our community donated their ping pong table to the island at Williams and 4th and “Pong Island” was born. Members of our neighborhood and many others walking through CCHN enjoyed the chance to stop, play a few games and enjoy our beautiful area. Sadly, Denver Parks & Rec gave the family 48 hours to remove the table, arguing that they were unable to mow the island. The following article was published about the story in the Westword last week, for those wondering what happened to this neighborhood gem.


The tip was top-secret. “Have you heard about Pong Island?” asked my source. “It’s incredible, but you can’t write about it. That would ruin it.”

I stayed mum, but the secret escaped anyway. And Pong Island was sunk, given 48 hours by the city to disappear or be disappeared.

The pandemic has sparked creativity and community in all kinds of ways. In Italy, residents of adjacent apartment complexes stood on their balconies and joined in song. In Denver, two people decided to start howling at 8 p.m., and that sound echoed from Cheesman Park around the world. A few blocks away, at East Fourth Avenue and Williams Street, a homeowner decided to put a ping-pong table in the middle of a traffic island in a very residential area, equip it with paddles and balls, and nail up a sign announcing the sudden existence of Pong Island.

Tom Filippini had grown up playing ping-pong in suburban Chicago with his brothers. “Ping-pong was our go-to,” he says. Once he was living in the 400 block of Williams with a family of his own, he got an all-weather ping-pong table and set it up alternately in the backyard, the basement and even the driveway, back in the days when you could invite your neighbors over to invade your space.

But there hadn’t been much call for table tennis in his household as the pandemic dragged on, and with spring finally moving in, he had a brainstorm: He’d put the ping-pong table on an empty traffic island just down the block, where it would create a diversion for his neighbors and “be put to more frequent and better use than it was at our house,” he recalls thinking. “I sort of latch onto these ideas, and maybe I take them a little too far, but this would be a really interesting lesson in humanity.” And he’d execute the idea anonymously, creating a QR code — “I learned that from all the restaurants during the pandemic” — for sign-ups and comments. “We wanted to keep it on the DL as a community amenity,” he explains.

He enlisted his children in the stealth campaign, and waited for “the opportune moment to make our strike.” It came early one Sunday morning about three weeks ago, when he and his daughter — the only child who proved willing to get up — started rolling the table down the driveway. “It was so loud, and it was so quiet at four in the morning,” he recalls.

Still, no one stirred, and they were able to set up the table and nail up the Pong Island sign — purchased on Etsy — and get back home without anyone noticing. One complaint, Filippini promised himself, and he’d remove the table.

But no complaints came. Instead, the community did. “Every time I pulled around the corner, someone was playing,” he marvels. Neighbors used the QR code to sign up, and to talk about how much they enjoyed the table. One woman noted that since a paddle was broken, she’d ordered some new ones on Amazon.

“I wanted to create community,” Filippini recalls. “I had no idea it would actually play out the way it would. It was such a simple thing, but it brought people together…from all walks of life.”

In a way, he says, it made him think about how “ping-pong diplomacy” had helped China and the United States resume relations four decades ago.

But even Henry Kissinger couldn’t win a game against the toughest opponent on Pong Island: Denver bureaucracy.

As the city’s mowing season finally got under way — delayed by snow, then rain — a Department of Parks and Recreation crew discovered Pong Island, with its illegal sign, illegal table and illegal fun. Ironically, players had been having so much fun that there was almost no grass left to mow.

Even so, on May 11, park ranger Matthew Paul posted a notice on the table that the “personal items” would have to be removed from public property by 5 p.m. May 13, or they would be confiscated. He also used the QR code to leave a comment with the same warning.

Filippini saw it and broke his anonymity. He identified himself as the perpetrator to the city, and asked for a stay of execution. He alerted the players who’d left email addresses along with comments on the site (one of them my source, whom he’d never met) that Pong Island’s days were numbered. “It seems there are bigger fish to fry in Denver parks than a ping-pong table, but hey,” he wrote. “It was fun while it lasted ????…”

He shared some of the comments with the city.

“This is amazing! Thank you!,” one neighbor had written.

“What a wonderful gift to the neighborhood! We love ping pong and will do our part to respect and maintain this happy diversion. THANK YOU for having this brilliant idea, putting it together and providing a simple joy for all to share.”

“Had so much fun playing today! Thanks for setting this up!!”

“Love Pong Island! I live in the neighborhood and have played and enjoy the fact that I’ve seen so many people playing. What a great idea.”

“Thank you for this amazing set up. My husband and three boys are looking forward to some serious tournaments this summer.”

“Pong Island is amazing! So glad we found it and played two games. The world needs more of this. Thank you!”

Filippini had hoped that these sentiments would score points with Parks and Rec, but the city still found Pong Island out of bounds.

“We want people to get out and enjoy the parks,” explains Deputy Manager/Parks Scott Gilmore. “They’re busier now more than ever.” And because of that, the city has to play by the rules.

In order to keep the parks safe, early on during the pandemic, the department had pulled down basketball hoops and removed tennis court nets in an attempt to keep people from congregating and ignoring social distancing guidelines. “But everything’s back up now,” Gilmore says. “The parks are fully open, and rec centers are trying to get back on line.”

And city crews are going out to mow Denver’s 6,000 acres of parkland, including that little triangular travel median that had been dubbed Pong Island. Although Filippini suggested that he’d be willing to move the table for the mowers — no mention of the fact that the games had killed off the grass, anyway — Gilmore says that wouldn’t work. “We just don’t allow individuals to drop things in the park,” he explains. “I appreciate him doing something positive. If I allowed one group to do it, though, then I’m going to have stuff in every park. It would be chaos.”

And so Pong Island was sunk. When Filippini returned home from work on May 13 (a pilot, he’s in the aviation business), a city crew was getting ready to take the table. Filippini took it back to his house. “I’m ready to roll it back down there,” he promises..

But as far as Gilmore is concerned, the game’s over. He suggests that players head to the Carla Madison Rec Center at 2401 East Colfax Avenue, which has four ping-pong tables outside, as well as a climbing rock and “all these types of outdoor activities.”

Or, he notes, “there are plenty of big yards in that neighborhood. Put it in your front yard.”

Not on a traffic triangle. “There are some things I just have to say no to,” Gilmore explains. “Everybody’s mad at me for something.”

One of those things? The fact that a decade ago, a rich resident who lived in a big house on the Fourth Avenue Parkway, right by Pong Island, was allowed to put a sidewalk up to the front door of his pricey home despite the fact that his front yard was really a city park. Maybe the ping-pong table should go there, one neighbor suggests.

Others wonder why the city is so eager to get rid of ping-pong when homeless encampments are popping up all over the city. If that table was a tent instead, Pong Island would still be in business, they say.

In the meantime, though, the spirit of Pong Island keeps bouncing along.

A couple of days after he moved the table back home, Filippini was driving through the neighborhood when, a few blocks away, at Fifth and Columbine, he saw that a ping-pong table had been put in a driveway between the sidewalk and the street, in what looked like a copycat attempt to coax out the community.

“It’s created a movement,” he says.

Match to Pong Island.

Things To Do

Forget Me Not (227 Clayton) is the new cocktail destination that includes a small-plate menu and live music.
Colorado Rockies: The baseball team is allowing fans at 25% capacity.
Colorado Avalanche: Hockey is for in-person watching too!
Denver Nuggets: They’ve been on fire much of the season! Catch them now and hopefully into the playoffs.
Denver Art Museum: From Paris to Hollywood: The Fashion and Influence of Véronique and Gregory Peck (until July 18th). The Pecks were influencers of their time.
Denver Botanic Gardens: Tulips are blooming in April! Two art exhibitions-
Dreams in Bloom – Fares Micue (until May 16); Radiant Season- Kevin Sloan (until July 11)
Denver Center for Performing Arts: Until The Flood, a fictional piece about the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death (enjoy this for free and on-demand until Fall 2023)
Denver Museum of Nature and Science: SUE: The T. Rex Experience (through April 25th); Stonehenge: Ancient Mysteries and Modern Discoveries (until September 24)
Denver Terrors Ghost Tour: Despite the name, this family-friendly attraction weaves its way through nine to 14 different haunted sites around Capitol Hill while telling historical and spooky stories (denverterrors.com)
Permit-less Hikes (no permits required to enjoy these outdoor escapes)
• Flat Top Wilderness
• Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness
• Lost Creek Wilderness
• Indian Peaks Wilderness

Group Living Update

Denver’s City Council voted 11-2 to pass the Group Living Text Amendment on February 8th, 2021. The Text Amendment seeks to update Denver’s zoning codes and make housing more inclusive and equitable. The CCHN board voted unanimously against the Group Living Text ​Amendment ​initial draft based upon the results of a neighborhood survey in which the vast majority of residents opposed the draft.
After much city-wide deliberation and compromise, the Group Living Text Amendment was revised to stipulate:​
A maximum of 5 unrelated and related adults can live together, with an unlimited number of minor children. Previously, 2 unrelated persons with unlimited adult and minor relatives were allowed to live in a single-family home. Multigenerational families may still live together as previously allowed.
All residential care facilities (senior living, homeless shelters, community corrections, etc) were reclassified under one definition and their zoning is regulated primarily on size. Community Corrections facilities of any size will not be allowed in single family neighborhoods, including CCHN. Other residential care facilities are restricted in single family neighborhoods, including CCHN, depending upon their size. Facilities with 10 or fewer residents are limited to 3 total facilities within a 1-mile radius (in contrast to the original draft, which allowed an unlimited number of facilities with 8 or fewer guests in single family districts, with the exception of shelters which were not previously allowed in single family districts).
Larger facilities will still have a cap of 20 people in single family districts and will now be restricted to parcels previously used for a civic, public or institutional use (e.g. churches, schools, government buildings), which are not in CCHN.

Spring Planting

Spring flowers are some of the most beautiful and appreciated blossoms. After we dig out from a season of snow, we can count on all that moisture to bring us a glorious array of varieties and colors. And, they arrive before the Japanese Beetles! (More on that later.)

No garden should be without peonies. Once planted, they can live for decades with very little attention and have a wide range of bloom times so that you could have fragrant bouquets for up to 7 weeks. Petal colors range from white to yellow, coral, pink purple and red in delicate single layers or lush doubles.

Heirloom varieties have heavenly fragrances and are less expensive. Hybridization has created plants with stronger stems, but little fragrance. ‘Hot Chocolate’ is a late mid season fragrant Japanese type. ‘Eden’s Perfume’ is considered one of the most fragrant peonies, with a Damask rose fragrance.  

Root stock peonies are planted in the fall and may take a year or two to produce flowers, but then keep going for 50+ years.  Potted plants from a local nursery bloom this year. Plant with a little bone meal and compost in a location with 6-8 hours of sun. They don’t like to be moved, so picking the right spot and amending the soil are keys to success. After that, just cut the foliage to the ground in fall, add a layer of mulch and know that the cold weather is helping create blossoms for another year.

Back to the Beetles…they are here to stay.  There is no known way to totally eradicate them right now. Reproduction rates may stabilize, however. The best control still is early morning flicking into a cup of soapy water.  Traps that you may have seen hanging in trees around the neighborhood are only causing us all more problems. Beetles travel up to 5 miles. The traps just bring more bugs to our neighborhood.  Putting the traps in the parkways doesn’t remove them from your garden. The parkways aren’t watered as much as your lawn probably is and don’t have the delicious variety of plants – Japanese Beetles are known to munch on over 400 species. Females repeatedly tunnel into your lawn over a two-to-three week period and lay up to 60 eggs each. The more you water and the shorter your grass, the happier they are.  July and August are very hot months for us, but if you can cut your watering a little and let your grass grow to 3 inches, it will be harder for them to get down where they need to go. There is a biological grub control that can be applied in late summer to fall that will kill only scarab beetle larvae: grubGONE! Ask about it at your nursery or click beetlegone.com. 

Remember to protect bees and other pollinators when choosing chemical controls in all areas of your garden. In the meantime, enjoy the crocus, tulips, daffodils, hellebores, allium, iris and peonies, beetle free.

Councilman’s Corner

Chris Hinds

Happy Spring, Country Club Historic Neighbors!

Spring this year feels even more special as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to lift. We’ve been up to a lot since I wrote last, and if you want a deeper dive into the work my office has been doing for all of District 10, I hope you sign up for our monthly newsletter at denverperfect10.com/signup.

One lovely sign of the pandemic lifting is that our libraries are starting to re-open! There will still be out-door service options, like curbside pick-up, but you can now visit inside Ross-Cherry Creek with COVID precautions in place. Thanks to our library staff who kept us with reading material during the darkest months of the pandemic.

I also want to give a huge thank you to constituent Chaun Powell and the other Country Club neighbors who quickly put together a virtual town hall meeting with Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, Mayor Hancock, Denver’s District Attorney office, and me to discuss February’s serious security matter. Several homes in Country Club were broken into – including while families were at home. Mr. Powell jumped into citizen action mode after his own home experienced a break-in. He helped organize a large virtual meeting – with over 100 attendees – so neighbors could discuss and get advice on what they could do to keep safe. The good folks from Denver Police District 3 discussed basic safety, how to start neighborhood watch and, the best part, they believe they caught the perpetrator within a week, thanks in part to help from all of you.

There have been several police-related policies to help our officers have more time to devote to the prevention of these crime issues. Unfortunately, during the pandemic we saw a rise in crime around the country in addition to other concerning issues – like homelessness – that frequently involve police time and attention. The STAR program and co-responders are two of the ways we’re working with social service providers to ease the burden on our police. We’re seeing very positive results from this approach and, with the lifting of the pandemic, we are encouraged that crime rates will decline and that we can help Denver’s unhoused with more appropriate outreach. That will free the police to focus on matters that really require a police response.

When spring arrives, you might be thinking of spring cleaning. Our friends at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure are getting ready to start sending out street sweepers. Did you know in 2020, Denver street sweeping crews swept 163,385 lane miles and collected 57,479 cubic yards of dirt and debris? That’s a lot of material that otherwise ends up polluting our air. Thank you, DOTI street-sweeping crew, for helping us keep Denver’s air clean.

Speaking of streets, keeping them free of snow is a big operation in Denver. And, we saw some serious white stuff during the big mid-March snow event! If you are curious about how DOTI prepares for and responds to snowstorms, have questions about how to safely shovel, remove snow from trees, need bike riding tips, and, especially important to me, how to report sidewalks and curb & gutter that needs to be shoveled, there is a ton of great material on DOTI’s snow webpage. There’s even a live plow tracker that you can watch. Just search “snow” on Denvergov.org.

If you don’t have the ability to clear your sidewalk and curb & gutter, Denver has a great volunteer program called Snow Angels that can help. And, if you have a bit of extra time and can aid someone in need during a snow event, Snow Angels would love your help. You can find more about Snow Angels on DOTI’s snow page.

As the weather warms, we’ll be seeing a lot more folks walking, biking, and rolling around. I recently brought in some yard signs that remind folks to “Drive Like Your Dog Lives Here” featuring a certain Council Dog. If you’d like a free sign, contact my office.

Speaking of activity in the streets – did you happen to catch Director of DOTI, Eulois Cleckley, speaking about both the 5280 Trail and Shared Streets during the District 10 Cabinet in the Community meeting in late February? You can view that meeting recording, including a presentation about how we’re addressing homelessness, at Facebook.com/DenverPerfect10.

To keep up with all the work we’re doing, I recommend signing up for our monthly newsletter and checking out denverperfect10.com, which features weekly, up-to-date blog posts and information items from city departments.

Happy Spring!

Letter From District 10 Councilman Chris Hinds

Happy Fall!
It’s been three months since I took office in Denver’s Perfect District 10. We’ve been busy getting oriented and meeting with a lot of you. I organized our office with three Aides helping to cover three distinct District 10 areas to cover a lot of District 10 territory. Our response time has been getting faster and faster. To date, our office has handled just shy of 200 constituent cases!
Here are just a handful of items you could find on the District 10 calendar:
• City Agency Speed Dating: We got a 10-minute intro to 35 different Denver departments and agencies where we met leadership, learned about organizational structure, were told about funding needs and issues, and who to reach out to when our constituents need help.
• 5280 Trail: This is a project I’m proud to champion. It’s great for District 10. More coming soon.
• City Contracts 101: Though City Council has a strong bully pulpit, the real authority of Council is over two areas of the City – approving contracts and passing legislation. While Mayor Hancock has our ear, City operations fall under the Mayor’s purview.
• Lobbyists: Whaaa? We met with several paid and unpaid lobbyists on various issues such the implementation of 5G cell towers and scooter safety, enforcement, and rules and regulations respectively. Both cell towers and scooters proved to be two of our first incredibly contentious issues.
• Developers: Whooo? It’s no news to you all that there is a lot of development happening across Denver, and quite a bit is in the Cherry Creek area. These meetings are important because we can help the community stay up to date on the latest information, and can reiterate issues around development that are important to all of you. Two priorities I make sure developers know that I’ll be looking out for are 1) the important relationship between land use and transit infrastructure and how development will address it, and 2) that development shouldn’t happen TO neighborhoods, it should happen FOR Perfect 10 neighborhoods.
• Transit Demand Management systems will be vital in helping Denver address the potential for hundreds of thousands of cars arriving with the new Denverites over the next 20 years. I’m supportive of alternatives that make it easy to forgo the automobile.
• Staff meetings: Each week we have two staff meetings that are an hour and a half long. It takes at least one hour to go over all our scheduling requests and event invitations. The rest of staff time is to talk through District office projects and trickier constituent issues….like those that might require mediation.
• Mediation: Sometimes constituents can be so passionate about multiple sides of an issue that we call in Denver’s mediator to help facilitate a productive conversation.
There is so much more I’d love to share with you and I look forward to doing that during your annual meeting. Teresa St Peter in our office has just started working with CCHN on several traffic calming concerns in Country Club so we’ll have an update on those when we see you next. In the meantime, please drive safe and watch out for our kids, who are back in school and going to be out and about on Halloween.
Sincerely, Chris

Secret Rooms Can Be Treasures Found

We are fortunate to have beautiful and unique architecture and design throughout our neighborhood. Perhaps one of the more intriguing elements is the secret or hidden room. These rooms can be found most anywhere in the house and are fun to discover. One such room is in the home of Anne and Matt Quallick. When they renovated and redesigned their lovely historic Tudor on Vine Street several years ago, Anne, an architect by trade, decided to incorporate this surprise feature for their two young boys. A whimsical “secret” room, accessed via false-front doorways, joins their bedrooms. “The boys never tire of showing friends the hidden doorways,” Quallick says, “They always react with delight as if it’s the first time they’ve discovered it.”

Break Ins / Be Aware

Sadly, there was a break-in on Vine Street yesterday early evening (5 PM). Someone walked through a gate and busted through a back door of one of our neighbors.

Please be aware of any strange vehicles or behavior in our neighborhood and promptly call police. Alternatively, you can call our security company who – if on patrol – will swing by. Their number is ‭(303) 603-3090‬. Please use your home alarms at ALL times.

Reminder: VOTE!

Tuesday is city-wide election day and ballots cannot be mailed at this point.  Vote by hand delivering to a ballot collection box or vote in person. 24 hour ballot boxes reside at the Denver Botanic Gardens and on the east side of the Cherry Creek Ross library. Every vote counts!!!

6th Avenue Learning

Take a class in the neighborhood! All in walking distance from your home, the following take place from 6th & Corona to 6th & Milwaukee:

MoonDance Botanicals – Reiki, soap-making, and herbals

Denver School of Photography – Digital photography, Photoshop or Lightroom

Trouts Fly Fishing – Casting, tying flies, or a trip out on the water.

Novo Coffee – Brewing, steaming and seed-to cup with your local barista.

The Truffle Cheese Shop – Buratta making or pairing cheese with beer or cider.

Apothecary Tinctura – Wellness, meditation, aromatherapy, herbalism and accupuncture.

Denver Divers – Swim and diving lessons, first aid and rescue.

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