Lorraine Granado, an activist from north Denver who died late last year, will have an Elyria-Swansea park named after her later this month, assuming the city council signs off on the change.
Granado co-founded the Cross-Community Coalition in 1987. She’s the reason Swansea Neighborhood Park at 51st Avenue and Steele Street, which will be renamed in her honor, exists. (Nearby Swansea Park at 49th Avenue and Thompson Court is a different piece of open space.)
In 1995, a railroad tanker car owned by Vulcan Materials Company leaked, releasing the equivalent of 3,300 gallons of hydrochloric and muriatic acid into the air, just eight feet from a fence separating it from a playground and the Swansea Community Center. Granado and others in the neighborhood filed suit. They received a $200,000 settlement that resulted in the park at 52nd Avenue and Steele Street.
It wasn’t her only battle for environmental justice: In 1994, Granado and others filed a class-action lawsuit against Globeville’s Asarco metals refinery, which contaminated north Denver air and soil with lead, arsenic trioxide and cadmium. Locals won $28 million worth of environmental remediation.
Granado went head to head with industrial polluters and the Environmental Protection Agency in the early 2000s when she agitated for a government-sponsored cleanup of about 850 homes in the 80216 ZIP code that was doused in arsenic and lead from decades of smelting.
“She would not take no for an answer,” said Fernando Pineda-Reyes, a protege of Garnado’s who worked at Cross Community Coalition under her “She just pushed all the way and reminded us that big businesses were here to do the minimum because they’re forced to do it, not because big businesses want to do it.”
The city council will vote on renaming the strip of land “Lorraine Granado Community Park” later this month.