Cesar Chavez bust to be unveiled Saturday in Denver park
By Diego Aparicio
POSTED: 03/26/2015 12:01:00 AM MDT
UPDATED: 03/26/2015 03:46:50 PM MDT
A new bust will be the highlight of this weekend’s celebration of Cesar Chavez Day in Denver, when local supporters unveil the new artistic piece installed in a public park named after one of the nation’s most prominent Latino civil rights leaders.
The bronze sculpture — commissioned to local artist Emanuel Martinez, who has three pieces of work in the Smithsonian and four more inside the Colorado Capitol — is the latest effort of a small but resilient group of Latinos who 10 years ago convinced the city to rename the park along Tennyson Street and 41st Avenue in west Denver after Cesar Chavez.
“They remember Chavez, they remember his work and they remember that we always have to honor the people who put food on our tables,” said Ramon del Castillo, a Chicano studies professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and a founder of the Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Committee that leads the grassroots efforts. The group paid for the bust and donated it to the park.
Many parts of Denver already honor Cesar Chavez. In addition to the park there is also a federal building and a charter school named after the iconic farm worker. City employees take off the last Monday in March to observe the holiday.
But there is no Cesar Chavez street, boulevard or road. There have been attempts in the past to rename 38th Avenue, and most recently Morrison Road, but advocates say they find it very difficult because of city regulations.
“The problem is (that) the rules in the city have been changed since they renamed 32nd Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard in east Denver,” said District 3 Councilman Paul Lopez, who handled the most recent petition to rename Morrison Road, a commercial strip in the Westwood neighborhood in Denver. “There was a really big fight out there and, although they accomplished the name change, the city changed the rules faster. The rules are such that they don’t really make sense.”
According to city documents, renaming any street permanently requires groups lobbying for the change to reach out to 100 percent of property owners along the area in consideration. Then, 85 percent of these property owners must support it. In 2011, Lopez’ office contacted about 200 property owners and confronted the same issues that previous groups encountered, like lack of response and absentee landlords.
Renaming any street could become costly to surrounding businesses and residents who suddenly would have a new address, said Rowena Alegria, chief communications officer for Mayor Michael Hancock.
According to Lopez, the estimated cost to rename Morrison Road after Cesar Chavez was about $10,000 to replace 20 street signs at $500 each. The city doesn’t have a record of an estimate cost for everything else involved. Residents and business owners won’t have to contribute to the new signs, but they would pay for new checks, business cards, etc. Groups lobbying for the street name change would likely have to pitch in, too.
What: Mass followed by march to Cesar Chavez Park at Tennyson and Utica streets
When: 9 a.m. Saturday Where: Regis University Chapel, 3333 Regis Blvd., Denver
Updated March 26, 2015. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction. Originally, due to incorrect information from a source, the process for paying for costs incurred when a street name is changed was incorrect. Residents and business owners would not be expected to contribute to the cost of changing the street signage. Proponents have generally raised money to cover those costs. Residents and business owners would have to cover their own individual costs for changing any of their own business collateral, such as reprinting checks, business cards, letterhead, envelopes, etc.