Sledders Cause More than $100K Worth of Damage to Denver Park
During the recent snowstorm, many Coloradans were eager to get outside and take advantage of the fresh powder.
The day after the storm hit, hundreds of people flocked to Denver's Ruby Hill Park with sleds in tow, ready to ride down the snow. However, instead of walking up to the top of the hill, a large amount of people decided to drive over the snow-covered grass — a choice that is now expected to cost the city more than $100,000 to repair.
According to Denver 7 News, Ruby Hill Park is built on top of a former landfill, so it's not just the damaged sod that the Parks and Recreation Department is worried about, but also the exposure of asbestos that's been uncovered from underground.
Asbestos wasn't always regulated like it is now, and at one point, old homes that were torn down were taken to landfills. The insulation and other pieces of these homes contained asbestos, which is how it got beneath Ruby Hill Park.
Earlier this winter, Denver Parks and Recreation had put a halt on sledding at Ruby Hill Park. Not only did they want to avoid people congregating at the top of the hill during a pandemic, but there was also a COVID-19 testing site at the location that they didn't want people sledding into.
Once the testing site closed, Ruby Hill Park reopened to sledders, but barricades were still in place in an effort to keep the park pedestrian-friendly and prevent vehicular traffic.
Denver Parks and Rec estimates that nearly 200 cars were parked on the grass last weekend, all of which ignored the barricades.
The mitigation process will not be easy for the City of Denver. They will have to hire somebody who is specially certified, as well as pay to dispose of the soil that's now been exposed. The City also plans to put up more fencing on the hill, which not only sets back their budget with extra costs, but also means staff will have to be working on that project rather than helping at vaccination sites and running food pantries. Denver Parks and Recreation was already experiencing budget challenges due to COVID-19 and have also faced staff reductions over the past year.