We Were Here First
With such gratitude, one of Elyria-Swansea’s community leaders joined us on our weekly neighborhood walk. Rather than a tour of the neighborhood, Candi Cdebaca told us her neighborhood’s point of view about the I70 expansion (known as Ditch the Ditch) as we walked her childhood streets. Here’s the summary of her point of view and a map of the walk in case you want to see that point of view, too.
Stop Driving over Our Neighborhood
Back in the 1970s, Elyria-Swansea-Globeville lost the fight. Instead of 46th becoming the planned parkway, it got covered by I70 to move traffic east and west through Denver. Ever since then, the neighborhood’s ills have gotten worse–long-term childhood disabilities, the city’s ignoring of their basic needs (like a ped crossing over 4 railroad tracks!), a quality rec center, and healthy schools. So when the I70 expansion announced, the neighborhood has said not again.
Dead End Here, There, Everywhere
This time, they refuse to have their school be scrunched up against a suggested park that will put the school children in even worse pollution. They refuse to have the lanes limit their connections to each other. They refuse to let their neighborhood be the sideshow to a giant bucket of federal bridge money that could go a longer way in easing congestion and pollution on I270.
Candi articulated solidly for over an hour with research, data, and facts that counteracted the marketing and PR put out by CDOT. Then she walked us to Swansea Elementary, the school that will be most impacted by the changes. It was shocking to see children chasing each other in the playground, no more than 25 feet from semis, traffic, and highway filth. Candi reiterated that the suggested changes would be even worse for the children.
Tight Knit and Ready to Win
She then suggested how she’d like to see the money spent and her neighborhood returned back to the connected community it once was. Walk in the neighborhood and you’ll see exactly what she’s talking about. Streets abruptly end in dead ends, at train tracks, and into buildings. Trying to walk a straight path is impossible.
Go Get ‘Em
But despite the long-term battle Elyria-Swansea has fought, it’s won bit by bit. And the neighborhood is strong. 50% of the residents own their beautiful 1900-1960s homes, living in them for 5+ years. Many generations know many generations. Candi’s family fought Globeville’s Asarco and won. Will history repeat?
Walk the route, see what the media talks about and the Ditch the Ditch point of view. Draw your own conclusions. See the route with its turn-by-turn directions and map.
Although this route doesn’t cover all of Elyria-Swansea, it covers most of the north side of the two neighborhoods in about 4 miles. On the south side of 46th Ave, you’ll find 80% of the marijuana supply for Denver Metro housed in the warehouses along 43rd and the Purina processing plant.
Start at 5100 Steele Street in the small park. Head southwesterly in a lock and step pattern, jigging one block and then jagging the next. Go west on E 51st Ave, left on Milwaukee, right on E 50th Ave, left on Filmore St, right on Beekman, left in the alley behind Clayton St. Notice Swansea Park and Rec Center on the right abutting the train tracks.
Take a left on Columbine, walking past Swansea Elementary. Stop at the playground that abuts 46th Ave and notice the proximity of the playground to the interstate. Candi states the interstate will take out the playground and position right next to the school. Students will play on the lid of the underground interstate, which Candi believes won’t be built (for a list of reasons.)
Continue west on 46th to Josephine. Take a right. Cross the railroad tracks and stop in Grow Haus, a community garden and grocery.
Leave the Grow Haus, heading south on York. At 46th, turn west and go under the famous viaduct. Admire the wonderful street art. At Brighton, turn south and go under the interstate. Check out the fire station on the south side of the street as you turn north and pass the Forney Transportation Museum.
You’ll go back under I70, making a circle and ending up at 47th and Brighton. This intersection used to be the center of Elyria. Notice the two-story white brick building on 47th to the west of the intersection on the north side of the street. I believe this was the Elyria Town Hall, but I cannot confirm.
Continue east on 47th to Thompson Court. Take a left, and start a jig-jag back up to your starting place by turning right on 48th, left on Filmore, right on left on 49th, left on Milwaukee, right on 50th, left on St Pal, right on 51st, left on Steele.