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We must protect Wagner Park

I feel the need to clarify a few issues mentioned in your recent article “Snow polo trots back to Rio Grande.” (Nov. 12, The Aspen Times).

I have never once complained about the Motherlode or Ruggerfest athletic events held in Wagner Park. Those events do not close Wagner Park or charge for admission. They do not fence-in the open space. During those tournaments, featuring human competitors (rather than equine), the park remains open, before, after and in between games. They effectively share the public space with the public.

For the record, I also have never complained about picnics, Frisbee, touch football, hacky sack, soccer, cross-country skiing, bird-watching, reading, writing, dog-walking, kite-flying or any other recreational activity. The deed to Wagner Park clearly states “the property must be used only for park or recreational purposes”

The distinction is clear. Some more impactful private events require total park closure with fences, security guards, extensive staging and ticket sales. These high-impact uses dominate the public space and preclude the public’s access.

The Parks Department has stated on record that the wear and tear from rugby and volleyball players is more damaging to the park than events such as trade shows, concerts or polo. I find that hard to believe. While I am not a turf scientist, I have been a daily user of Wagner Park for more than 10 years providing me with some perspective. I also challenge the Parks Department’s contention that a 6- to 12-inch thick layer of compacted man-made snow “protects” the park. Aeration is very important concept for the long-term health and strength of the turf. A winter-long layer of compacted, man-made snow, prepared with chemically treated water, is hardly ideal.

The mission of Protect Wagner Park, a Colorado nonprofit organization, is to protect Wagner Park from privatization, commercialization and damage. We advocate keeping the open spaces open, and the public spaces public. Show your support by joining our Facebook group, Protect Wagner Park.

Andrew Israel

Protect Wagner Park, Aspen


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