Denver’s marijuana tax money being used to fund local projects

DENVER -- Aging irrigation systems are getting replaced. Historic sites will soon be restored. Get ready to see positives changes popping up around Denver. But how the projects are being funded may surprise you.

FOX 31: “What do pot and playgrounds have in common?”

“Hopefully nothing. Haha,” mother, Cassie Hart said.

One is helping pay for the other. The marijuana industry in Denver brings in millions of dollars annually in tax revenue. But this year, for the first time, the Denver Parks and Recreation department is benefiting big. They are receiving four million dollars in funding.

“This is where they started to build out the benches for the seating that would eventually become the stadium of Red Rocks today,” Shannon Dennison, Cultural Resource Administrator with Denver Mountain Parks said.

The very men who built the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre lived in nearby barracks during the Great Depression.

“The Civilian Conservation Corps was based here. There were about 200 young men who were out of work in the country who came here,” Dennison said.

Built in the 1930s, time has weathered the Mount Morrison Civilian Conservation Core Camp.

“You can see areas of the window where they’ve been nicked, where we have peeling walls, the glass is broken. You can see some sag in the roof and some of the buildings sink into the ground over time,” Dennison said.

But now $500 thousand dollars of Denver’s marijuana tax revenue will help restore history.

“It’s really going to give us the ability to keep this place going for another hundred years,” Dennison said.

$600 thousand dollars of the pot tax is allocated to Sloan’s lake to repair the boardwalk. Parks and Rec said it has structural issues that will be fixed at the Northeast corner.

$750 thousand dollars will pay for a new irrigation system at Harvard Gulch north.

$400 thousand dollars will give the park at Asbury and Tejon, a major facelift. It’s located on the southern end of Denver. The redesign includes more playable space for park users while also improving the functionality of the waterway and basins that capture water after the rain to improve water quality before it enters south Platte river.

“Brick that is falling apart, people damaging and vandalizing the structure. We’ve got trees growing out of it,” Scott Gilmore, Executive Director of Parks and Planning for the City of Denver said.

$1.7 million dollars will fund phase three of Sullivan Gateway, to restore the crumbling, 101 year-old terra cotta walls. They are located on the north side of Colfax, near East High School. It was built in 1917.

“We definitely want to make this a beautiful entrance to our crowning jewel park in the city of Denver,” Gilmore said.

So the next time you sit at a park bench or head to a Red Rocks concert, it could be the pot tax that’s keeping these spots in top condition.

“No matter what your stance is on marijuana, those tax revenues are coming back to the Parks and Rec department to help us get projects done that would not have been done before,” Gilmore said.

Click to view more information on Colorado marijuana tax revenue.

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