Columbus Park to La Raza Park? Councilwoman Sandoval’s working on it

The change would make the park’s colloquial name its official title.

Cruisers hang out beneath the pyramid at La Raza (or Columbus) Park before a cruise down Federal Boulevard. Aug. 25, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Cruisers hang out beneath the pyramid at La Raza (or Columbus) Park before a cruise down Federal Boulevard. Aug. 25, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval said Monday she will begin the process to formally rename Columbus Park to a name many Denverites already call the green space: La Raza Park.

Sandoval said changing the Sunnyside park’s name was a campaign promise she planned on giving legs this summer. Her next step will be setting up a meeting with Denver Parks and Recreation Executive Director Happy Haynes to discuss the process.

The potential change comes after weeks of anti-racists protests in Denver and around the country. On Sunday, the Master Community Association in Stapleton said its neighborhood community delegates would begin the process to remove the neighborhood’s name. The name comes from former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton, who was a member of the KKK.

Following the Stapleton announcement, Sandoval said she saw and agreed with state Sen. Julie Gonzales’s tweet suggesting it was time to rename Columbus Park, named after the Italian colonizer.

People living near the park, who were predominately Chicanos and Mexican-Americans, started calling it La Raza Park during the 1970s. “La Raza” is Spanish for “the people.” Community activists took over the park in 1970, slowly building it the epicenter of the local Chicano movement. The park later became the scene of confrontations between police and Chicanos prompted by park curfews.

Sandoval said in order to change the park’s name, petitions would need to be gathered (she estimates it could be a few hundred signatures) and presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. She said that the board could then send the recommendation to the full City Council, which would then send it to the council’s Land Use, Transportation, and Infrastructure Committee for discussion.

If LUTI makes the recommendation for a change, it would go to the full board for a public hearing and finally a vote before the full council.

The councilwoman said she helped rename La Alma-Lincoln Park in 2013 while working for then Councilwoman Judy Montero.

Denver Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Cyndi Karvaski said the park and facility naming process was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, though the department is currently evaluating how it would move forward. Since Columbus Park is designated as a neighborhood park, 300 signatures from Denver residents would be required for the petition to be heard by the parks and rec advisory board.

Here are other parks that have been renamed:

  • 02/2020 –  Loraine Granado Community Park formerly Swansea Neighborhood Park
  • 08/2017 – Carpio-Sanguinette Park formerly Northside park
  • 07/2016 – Ruth Lucille Dreiling Park a portion of Weir Gulch
  • 07/2016 – M.L. “Sam” Sandos Park formerly Barnum North park
  • 07/2013 – La Alma/Lincoln Park formerly Lincoln Park

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