It was fascinating, if not exactly enlightening, to see the northeast corner of Acacia Park turned into our very own Potemkin village on Wednesday afternoon.
A press release described the event in glowing terms.
“The City of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities, Downtown Partnership, Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Colorado Springs Urban Intervention will celebrate several improvements in and around Acacia Park in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs this week. Join Mayor Steve Bach and partners at the northeast corner of Acacia Park TODAY, Wednesday, June 5 at 2 p.m. to celebrate these exciting projects.”
So what is there to celebrate? New LED bulbs in the streetlights, food trucks across the street from Acacia Park on North Nevada, parking meters for the homeless, Nevada Avenue medians, and the sort-of transformation of the old shuffleboard court into a downtown visitor hub. All worthy projects to be sure (especially the medians!) but methinks our city government doth overhype.
The press release was right – Acacia Park was indeed improved, but a little differently than advertised. The downtown scruffies who usually hang out in the park had mysteriously vanished, perhaps discouraged by Mayor Steve Bach’s entourage. Two police cruisers were parked side by side in the center of the park, and a total of 11 officers were deployed around the sparse crowd’s perimeter, protecting the Mayor and assorted dignitaries from anything untoward.
Such security! You would have thought that Vladimir Putin had dropped in for a visit, although Putin would likely have disdained such a show of force.
The much-touted food trucks were open for business, as was the visitor hub. Two days before, the food trucks were all closed at the same hour, and the north gates to the visitor center were securely padlocked. No dignitaries were present, but the park was its usual lively, disreputable self.
Yet you have to give the police at the event some credit – they were vigilant! An 8-year-old kid came zipping down the sidewalk on his bike, boldly riding between three burly officers. One of them reached out a hand to check him, but the kid deftly swerved away and continued down the sidewalk without a backward glance. The officers turned and stared impotently – they knew the kid had gotten away with it, because they couldn’t very well abandon hizzoner to chase him.
Thanks, kid – you made my day! You showed all of us that, despite the best efforts of the worthy public servants who run our city, we still have a fun, vibrant downtown, one where 8-year-olds can thumb their noses at the cops and get away with it.
Don’t try that with Mayor Bach, though…