District 7 representative continues to work for a greener Denver

There's 'a lot of amazing things to protect,' Jolon Clark says

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Editor’s Note: District 7 covers the Valverde, Baker, Speer, Athmar Park, Washington Park West, Ruby Hill, Overland, College View-South Platte and Platt Park neighborhoods.

Denver parks have long been a passion project for Jolon Clark, city council president and District 7 representative.

Before he was first elected in 2015, Clark worked for nearly 20 years for the Greenway Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the South Platte River. Last November, he proposed initiative 2A, which adds a .25% sales tax to raise funds for park projects or new land for parks, and which Denver voters passed. The initiative “will start to transform all of our existing parks while adding parks in communities that don’t have them,” Clark said in an email.

He’s now working with District 7 residents to build a dog park in the area.

But Clark, re-elected in June, is also looking toward new ways to make the city more green and the district a leader on environmental issues in Denver.

“For the big-picture items, I am looking forward to fixing our waste diversion. We only recycle and compost 22% of our trash when 75% of it is recyclable or compostable,” Clark said. He also wants to tackle climate change head on.

Safety for pedestrians and helping Denver meet its Vision Zero goals are other priorities. Vision Zero is a plan to eliminate traffic deaths for pedestrians in Denver by 2030.

One of the reasons pedestrian safety is key to the future of District 7 is because it is one of the most walkable districts. Areas such as South Pearl Street have a large amount of shops and restaurants drawing people to visit.

But the district also has heavy traffic congestion on streets such as Santa Fe Drive and Federal Boulevard, one of the city’s High Injury Network streets. High Injury Networks represent 5% of the streets in Denver, but 50% of the traffic deaths.

A characteristic that makes District 7 unique is that Interstate 25 splits it into the east and west side. And the needs of the two sides vary widely, Clark said.

“It is hard work to make sure that every resident is getting what they need when the district faces such different issues on the east and west sides,” he said. “There are historical issues that are hard to fix — like unpaved alleys and roads that are still state highways not city streets — that are left over from when parts of the district were first developed before they were incorporated into Denver.”

The west side of the district is home to Denver’s Little Saigon Business District. The area helps promote the heritage and culture of some of Denver’s Asian communities. Many of these businesses have deep roots in Denver, Clark said.

The district’s proximity to the South Platte also means it has more riverfront than other districts.

Living in District 7 feels like a small town in a big city, Clark said. Clark grew up in the area and is now raising his own children there.

“We have some big problems to solve,” he said, “and a lot of amazing things to protect.”

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