Will Parks and Rec get an earful about their plan to privatize La Alma rec center tonight?

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La Alma Recreation Center
Tonight's Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting at 6 p.m. at La Alma Recreation Center, 1325 West 11th Avenue, has nothing to do with La Alma itself, at least according to the agenda.

No, it's just the board's regular monthly meeting, at which members are slated to hear public comments on drafts of two policies, including one that would allow admissions-based events -- such as circuses and swingers' parties (just kidding) -- in select city parks.

But the board may get an earful about something else entirely: the city's plan to solicit a nonprofit organization to run La Alma rec center -- a cost-cutting proposal that's caused considerable public outcry thus far.

The objection prompted the city to back off and agree to fund La Alma for nine months in 2010 while the parks department works with community members to come up with an agreeable plan for the rec center's future -- a compromise not offered for the other three rec centers the city is in the process of privatizing.

But Parks and Rec spokeswoman Jill McGranahan says she's caught wind that some folks who are angry about the privatization of La Alma -- compromise or no compromise -- may show up tonight. "I understand that a contingent of the La Alma community group may come to protest the transition at La Alma," she says.

And they'll have exactly ten minutes to do so -- which is the length of the "public comment" portion of the board's monthly meeting. After ten minutes, McGranahan says, the topic of conversation will switch to whether residents think it's a good idea to host the Mile High Music Festival in City Park.

It's a topic that seems like small potatoes when compared to quotes like this, captured by Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels at a neighborhood meeting held back in early October about the future of La Alma: "Privatizing La Alma is like blowing out a candle," said neighborhood resident Chris Medina. "It is more than a neighborhood rec center. It is my home."

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