Denver Parks and Recreation has reached the end of what’s being described as an especially community-driven process to find a partner to run the Globeville Recreation Center, and it’ll soon turn over the keys to BirdSeed Collective.
The art nonprofit was already running arts and food programs out of the recreation center, which has been in some administrative flux since the Great Recession. It took part in a competitive proposal process that began in the summer of last year and was officially approved for a $46,800, four-year contract by Denver City Council on Aug. 13.
“The approach is, we’re really giving back the community center to the community,” said John Martinez, Denver Parks and Recreation’s deputy executive director of recreation. “It was driven and led by the community.”
Before it even released a request for proposals, the city held community meetings to ask what kinds of services and programming neighbors wanted. Councilman Albus Brooks said during last week’s council meeting that he’s never seen a community meeting so crowded. The request was written to reflect the neighborhood’s input, and a scoring panel was assembled to include two community members.
“I’m just excited because this is a good news story of us giving this property back to the community,” Brooks said in the meeting. “The BirdSeed Collective … worked really hard and put together an unbelievable proposal and it’s just exciting to see the community win this and to see the community own this center.”
In 2010, facing a budget crunch in the recession, Parks and Recreation had to decide whether to shut down three recreation centers or hand over control to outside partners. Street Kidz took over at the Globeville Recreation Center, Colorado Miners took over the Johnson Recreation Center in Elyria-Swansea and Denver Inner City Parish took over the College View Recreation Center in southwest Denver. In 2014, Street Kidz pulled out of Globeville Recreation Center, returning control back to the city. Since then, BirdSeed has been running art programs there, as well as a food pantry for local families.
Martinez said BirdSeed’s programming partnerships at Globeville Recreation Center over the last few years didn’t have any impact on the process. Instead, BirdSeed “bubbled to the top because they’re really embedded in the community.”
Landing the contact is another in a series of wins this year for BirdSeed, which among many other things showcases more than 100 local artists for its fundraiser each year. In January, it was awarded $7,500 in the city’s P.S. You Are Here grant money for a project in which 20 artists will be “enlisted to design and hand-paint unique creative artwork on 40 solid waste dumpsters in the Columbine Denver Housing Authority Development, including the dumpsters from Zuni to Tejon streets, and Alameda Avenue to Cedar Street.” In June, Executive Director Anthony Garcia was selected to paint a mural for a pop-up exhibition at the History Colorado Center. (You can go see the artwork until Feb. 1, 2019.)
The sort of programming BirdSeed is already doing at the recreation center will continue, and they’ll also have regular operating hours with athletics, arts and cultural offerings like other recreation centers. Parks and Recreation will continue to offer support and check in from time to time on funding, successes and areas for improvement. The department will also have one representative sit on a community committee for the center.
There is no exact timeline as of now for when Parks and Recreation will officially turn the keys over to BirdSeed Collective, and some construction at the recreation center is still ongoing.
Members of the BirdSeed collective could not be reached for comment.