Neighbors worry that DPS land sell to developers could stir up trouble

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DENVER — Developers are eyeing a field north of Place Bridge Academy in Denver, but neighbors are concerned that stirring up the dirt could unleash the potential danger that lies beneath.

Eight months ago, Tezcatli Diaz bought her first home in the Lynwood neighborhood.

“It’s a very quiet neighborhood, really safe, pretty calm, not a lot of traffic,” Diaz said.

It seemed to be the perfect home for her family. Yet, she is already worried about the future of the neighborhood and her family’s safety.

The property across the street from Place Bridge Academy used to be a landfill. Denver Public Schools bought the land for $10 back in the 1960s, and then cleaned it up before building the school.

Now, Diaz is worried about how the future development of the remaining empty land will bring up the chemicals underneath the surface.

“Some of those include methane, benzyne, arsenic, and mercury,” she said.

In the last couple of years, the idea of DPS selling the land to the Urban Land Conservancy to build affordable housing floated around.

Mark Ferrandino, deputy superintendent of operations with Denver Public Schools, said sooner or later the land would be developed.

“I will say, if it’s not today, at some point someone is going to develop that 13 acres,” Ferrandino said. “There’s not a lot of places where there are 13 acres of open space within the city.”

Ferrandino says no final decisions will be made without hearing from the neighborhood.

“We have to always look at what we are doing, how we are doing it both for the betterment of the students we serve, and the broader community we support,” he said.

DPS will hear from the public and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment during their next meeting on January 28.