By Charlotte Winzenburg, Sherri Way, and Karen Hinkel
Residents of West Washington Park Neighborhood Association,(WWPNA), and South Denver residents have been working with our elected officials for several years to assure that Byers Middle School, located at 150 S. Pearl St., remains a school. Byers has set empty for over 10 years and is in dire need of major renovations to become a ‘modern’ school. However, we believe the cost to renovate Byers is still much less than building a new school. South Denver has a large population of students who either go out of our area to attend school, or attend private schools. With the number of school-aged children on the increase in West Washington Park and the surrounding neighborhoods, having thriving local schools in our community benefits not only West Washington Park but other South Denver residents as well. Moreover…Byers is a rich part of the history of our neighborhood.
Assuming The Denver Board of Education approves the proposal in August, the November ballot will include a mill levy increase raising the property tax contribution to DPS by $49 million a year and a bond proposal in the amount of $457 million. Part of this money has been approved to renovate Byers Middle school to open as a Denver School of Science and Technology in 2013. WWPNA actively supports the bond issue. A “YES” vote this November helps to bring Byers Middle School back to life. As Paul Kashmann wrote in the July issue of The Profile: “It’s time for tough decisions, folks. Is it better to spend those couple extra bones to support the education system that attracts businesses and families from around the globe, or would you rather save the money for vacation or another iPad?”
Given the importance of Byers to the fabric of our community, WWPNA has teamed up with DPS to showcase parts of the Byers school building on the West Wash Park Home Tour 2012. The West Wash Park Home Tour originated from The Neighborhood Promotion Committee in 1976 as a “Handy Man Tour”. Charlotte Winzenburg, a long-time resident and advocate for West Washington Park, co-chaired the first Home Tour as a means to show people how they can fix up their homes as a ‘do-it-yourself’ project. 1500 tickets were sold on the day of the tour for $2.50. They also created a DIY book with ads for local trades’ people and articles explaining the quandary of old-house renovations for $1.00. Needless to say, their tour was a great success and WWPNA is proud to carry on the tradition of promoting our neighborhood as a great place to call home!
This year’s Home Tour offers WWPNA the perfect opportunity to further its mission of advocating West Washington Park’s quality of life. Parts of Byers Middle School will be open on our Home Tour September 15th from 10 AM until 4 PM. We hope to have present representatives of DPS and DSST to answer your questions regarding the tax and bond issue facing voters this November. Members of WWPNA will be there as well encouraging you to get involved in your neighborhood.
Six houses will be open to tour, some in the Grant Historic District. This year we are excited to have two homes designed by noted architect William Lang homes on Lincoln Street. Each home is sponsored by a local business. The net proceeds of the Home Tour will be used by WWPNA for things that enhance the quality of life in our neighborhood – historically including donations by WWPNA to Lincoln Elementary School and The Washington Street Community Center.
Join your friends and neighbors on September 15th and enjoy visiting homes in the oldest park of West Washington Park. We hope you will also take the time and explore the historic school built on the land formerly occupied by the Denver Post’s first Publisher, William Byers, and discover for yourself why it should be saved and rehabilitated as a Denver Public School.
Please LIKE us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WestWashParkHomeTour2012
You can purchase Home Tour tickets for $20 on our blog www.WestWashParkHomeTour.com or on the day of the Home Tour at every house and Byers Middle School.