Review the Facts

Review the facts on zoo incinerator
By Larry Ambrose   
My Turn (The Denver Post digital edition)
Re: “Let Denver Zoo transform waste,” September 13 editorial.

The Denver Post’s editorial endorsing firing up a very expensive, high-temperature incinerator in the middle of the Denver Zoo, in the middle of City Park, cites Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation’s (INC) “ill-advised” request that the Denver City Council conduct investigatory hearings.

 As a coalition of Denver’s Registered Neighborhood Organizations, INC is advocating for council hearings to determine if an incinerator is an appropriate use in Denver’s parks. Or is it an industrial use that better belongs in a zoned industrial area away from the zoo’s 4,000 animals, visiting school children, City Park visitors and the thousands of residents who surround the park?   

In 2009, INC vigorously but unsuccessfully protested a proposed zoning change that took charter authority over zoning in Denver’s parks from the City Council and gave it to the Manager of Parks and Recreation. INC expressed its concern that by taking away zoning powers from the Council, “any recourse of citizens now in effect under the Charter with regard to zoning changes would be absent” and “delegation of such powers to the Manager of Parks and Recreation, was contrary to the language and intent of the Charter.”   

In 2010, the zoning code that took charter authority over zoning in Denver’s parks from the City Council and gave it to the Manager of Parks and Recreation was approved. Another way to explain it is that the mayor’s executive Manager of Parks and Rec, an appointee serving at the mayor’s pleasure, has unquestionable power to decide what can or cannot be built in city parks without recourse for citizens.    In 2014, Denver’s parks manager, Lauri Dannemiller, unilaterally determined that an experimental, high-temperature incinerator, which will produce tons of toxic gases and particles and will deposit them in and around the Park, the zoo and the neighborhoods, was a “park use.”   

Burning elephant poop to heat the elephant habitat and save money on the utility bill sounds good, but it is not ecologically sound or cost-effective. What can be composted, recycled, reused and repaired is even better for the Earth, our citizens and animals.  INC is asking the City Council to conduct an in-depth review of the facts.

Larry Ambrose is president of Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation.