The Front Porch gathered opposing reasons through conversations, letters and social media (all social media names are used with permission). Rename St*pleton for All submitted the reasons to vote in favor of changing the name.
Rename St*pleton for All – We are not asking people to erase history, but to acknowledge it. The DSST students who studied Mayor Stapleton’s legacy chose to change the name of their school that bore his name. Their example inspires us.
Historians know there has always been opposition to the KKK in Denver. We stand with those who opposed the Klan with the values of their day, in the 1920s, 1990s, and today. In the 1920s, Denver’s major newspapers and several public figures—including the district attorney and some members of City Council—fought the Klan’s oppression.
In the 1990s, even before developers broke ground, many who knew the history behind the name “Stapleton” objected to its use. In response, in 2001, the Stapleton Development Corporation (SDC) Naming Committee recommended that places and neighborhoods in the community have other names, and that while “Stapleton” could be used for marketing purposes, it would eventually be dropped.
Eighteen years later, however, we see the name “Stapleton” everywhere because Forest City ignored the spirit of this policy by incorporating the word “Stapleton” as its brand. Voting to remove this name from a place of honor in our community is a way for us to correct course and honor the original vision of those who established the foundational values of our community.
Jamie Hodgkins – A very small number of people ever have places named after them. The people who get that honor have “pride of place” in our society for posterity. Should Ben Stapleton’s actions give him “pride of place” in our community? How are we supposed to hold current leaders accountable if we as a city/community have decided that someone who actively worked with the Klan—and who never made amends for it, despite some people’s claims—is the right guy to name our community after?
Rob LeBouef – While Benjamin Stapleton, for whom the former airport was named, was a savvy businessman and brought some positive changes to Denver, his involvement with, and loyalty to the KKK, is undeniable and makes inclusion a difficult concept to demonstrate as long as our community bears his name. As a resident and business leader in this community, I cannot turn a blind eye to history.
Harold Scramstad – I was trained as a historian. If we start holding everybody in the past to the almost unreasonable standards that we’d set for ourselves, almost nobody is going to measure up. We should keep the name and invest it with all the qualities that we want a community to be—that 100 years from now, people will say, “Stapleton, that was the experimental community that really worked very hard to get it right.” Not, “There’s a community that in a smug or self-satisfied way thought it was solving its problems of the future by changing its name, because that didn’t really change anything.”
Bert Singleton – Stapleton did a lot for Denver while mayor, including building Red Rocks amphitheater and the airport. He grew up in a racist community and to go against all that takes courage.…he went from being a KKK member to inviting the NAACP to hold their national convention in Denver. Respecting Stapleton for making that change is a positive example for all our children. Do you forever condemn people for something from their past and ignore anything they do to improve the community?
Richard Caldwell – For an entire generation, Stapleton was an airport—it did not cause racial issues. It was the place the Space Shuttle landed on a 747; the Beatles, Nixon & The Rolling Stones landed. We all lined the fences to watch planes come and go, people from all backgrounds and races—and we got along fine!
Melinda Howlett – When I was 10 years old I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Museum, there was a sign there to the effect of “So we never forget.” It was probably the most moving, profound thing I have ever seen even 50 years later, the message being, if we do not keep these things, how do we learn from them?
Peggy Baack – Hundreds of thousands of place names would get the ax if some historical person did not measure up to today’s standards. Anything named Washington or Jefferson would be just the start as both were slave owners. Besides that, this community is called Stapleton because this is where Stapleton Airport used to be, not because the developers wanted to honor Mayor Stapleton.
Dana Steidtman – Before moving to the neighborhood, the name conjured up memories from when I had flown out of the airport as a child. However, after moving here as an adult, I learned more about the history of the airport’s namesake, Benjamin Stapleton. As I learned about his involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, I came to understand how hurtful the neighborhood name is, especially for people of color.
Now that we know better, let’s do better! … I wholeheartedly agree that we define our community. With that power, let us vote to let go of a name that is painful to so many and look forward to finding a name that ALL residents can celebrate.
City Councilman Chris Herndon – Today, the name is associated with the neighborhood’s history as an airport and the vibrant community that has grown in its place. In my experience here as an African American man, Stapleton is a community that embraces and celebrates the diversity of the people who call it home.
Brittany I. – Nobody is refuting that racism still exists, but…small minds will not be changed by changing the name, nor does the name Stapleton hold any power to cause racism. Look at what has come out of this racist’s name…a beautiful, multi-cultural, diverse neighborhood.
Bob Moore – Names don’t make the community. People make the community. Names/words change meaning through the ages…Make it mean a 21st century community dedicated to diversity, initiative, kindness, and caring for ALL.
Shannon Collins – Dismantling a legacy of racism is complex and challenging, and I think this name change is something we can do to acknowledge the painful history of the community, while making a commitment to a more just future….Any community is [built upon] the decisions that we make and the priorities that we have. For me, this is an opportunity for us to make the community that we want to live in…I have a priority to invest in this community.
Dan Oltersdorf – I believe a bold move like this would make a statement that reflects the progressive approach most residents value and have a ripple effect in our community, bringing hope and taking steps to move us all in a more positive direction. Equally important to the outcome of this vote are the conversations and actions that have the potential to move us forward.
Rename St*pleton for All – Many of us who are devoting our energy to this problem also devote ourselves to other ways of making our communities, schools, families, and earth stronger. This issue is not a distraction, but is a natural part of our values.
People of color were the first to raise the outcry about applying the “Stapleton” name to this development more than 20 years ago. Many of our own members are people of color, in addition addition to white and mixed-roots allies. Listening to our neighbors’ concerns, taking them seriously, and acting accordingly are the first requirements of achieving the truly inclusive and equitable community we all want.
O’Neil Rudolph – Why don’t we try to work towards fixing the core issue of institutional racism first? Why are people so focused on something so superficial? Changing the name of Stapleton is not going to do anything for people of color. All it’s doing is making white people feel proud of themselves for doing what they see as charity work in the community.
Terry Whitney – It is the right kind of action that’s important. I’d prefer to see people spending their time helping at schools where students really need the extra support.
Karin Harris – Why not focus on treating one another with respect? Volunteer. Help your neighbors.
Paul Fisher – It takes resources away from much more important neighborhood initiatives.
Melinda Howlett – The cost will be upwards of $300,000, not to mention what it will cost businesses. If we are going to spend this kind of money, I would love to see us pull together as a community and do something that could really make a difference in people’s lives.
Bert Singleton – When I look at our nation today, we are facing really serious issues that will affect us and our children and grandchildren, including damage to the environment because of rollback of environmental rules, rollback on the rule of law—that should be our focus. Why focus on this when there is so much else?
Danny Brown – I will choose to save the funds to do real things to help our community. With a special assessment to make the changes….hundreds of thousands of dollars…I think we can creatively find better places to spend our money!
Rename St*pleton for All: Opinion is indeed divided, but the division is not new. It traces back decades. However, we are proud that tolerance and inclusivity are foundational ideals of this community. Actively working toward those ideals can sometimes be uncomfortable, and it takes honesty and courage to move forward.
Today, we all want all voices to be heard. There are a number of reasons people oppose the name change. Thankfully, deliberate racial exclusion is not a common one. Our goal is to unite the community behind a new name that is unburdened by links to the overt bigotry of the past.
Brooke Lee: To my friends and neighbors who have made an effort to learn about experiences other than their own with an open heart and mind, I thank you. Our conversations about diversity and what real inclusion looks like have helped us understand each other more deeply and intimately. This has been the silver lining of the debate thus far.… We have more work to do beyond the name change. But today, we can right this wrong together.
Ron Adams – I am most disturbed by the tactics of the group “Rename Stapleton for All (RSFA).” Their goal is to accomplish the renaming of our community by any means necessary. They have been pushing the delegates to vote for a name change without input from residents. Did you know they vigorously fought this very ballot process that gives you your voice?
Bert Singleton – I live in an income-qualified townhouse and there are many others, as well as a lot of middle class people. They’re trying to paint us in the worst possible light as wealthy White racists, intentionally trying to keep Blacks out. I am concerned that the decision on eliminating the Stapleton name from our community is being controlled by a small group of individuals, including some who don’t reside in Stapleton.
Brittany I – It seems that Rename Stapleton planned a hostile take over to force their beliefs and wants/needs on everyone in this community. That’s just not the way things should be done or the way good people should think. That’s bully mentality.
Richard Caldwell – Sounds like rename is an effort by a few to impose their ideals, and if you disagree they call you intolerant.
We only got one ballot and our household disagrees on how to vote. How can our ballot be counted?
State statutes apply to the governing documents of planned urban developments like Stapleton and those statutes give one vote per property owner. When results of the property owners’ vote is determined (ballots due July 31), the delegates will vote on a recommendation to the MCA Board. The delegates are obligated to cast their vote in proportion to the votes cast in their district IF a quorum of 10% of the ballots in that district is met. If your household disagrees and leaves a question blank, your ballot will still be counted toward the quorum in your district. If a quorum of 10% is not met, the delegate can choose how to cast their vote. You received a stamped self-addressed envelope with your ballot to encourage wide participation in this vote.
I heard my signature would be on the ballot—where should I put it?
At one point in setting up the ballot it was thought signatures would be included. However, it was decided to instead assign a number to each ballot and envelope so no signature is required either place. Ballots with signatures will be valid, but anyone can request to review ballots, so those with signatures would not be secret.
Please explain the three questions.
Question #1 – This asks whether to legally remove the name Stapleton or retain it. This question is being asked to determine if the community wants to embark on a process to find and agree on an alternative name.
Question #2 – This is a vote on whether the MCA should or should not impose a one-time assessment, not to exceed the current monthly cost ($43/property), to cover costs of a name change, including engaging the community to find an alternative name. Community delegate Tom Downey and Rename supporter believes finding a new name and making the legal and other changes could be done without great expense by enlisting City support and letting the rebranding take place gradually. Delegate Yuri Tavbin asks, “If we just get rid of the name legally without changing signs and some sort of education what is the point? On the other hand the MCA could spend a lot of money providing education, updating signs and so forth.”
Question #3 – If you think the community name should only be changed by a vote of the community, vote in favor of amending the MCA governing document. If you think the community delegates and board should retain the right to change the name, vote against amending the document. The name change article in the MCA’s governing document is the only article that can be changed without a vote of the property owners. The developer, Brookfield, has said they will not veto a board recommendation. On October 4, 2021, the developer control period ends and after that the name can only be changed by a majority vote of property owners.
How was it decided that Stapleton property owners would vote now on whether to rename the community?
Last fall, Rename St*pleton For All (RSFA) put a slate of their supporters on the delegate ballot and two Rename supporters were elected as delegates. Since then, the MCA delegates and Board have had ongoing, sometimes contentious discussions on changing the name.
Stapleton is the largest neighborhood in Denver, and the airport was named Stapleton 75 years ago. The majority of community delegates and board decided property owners, not the delegates and board, should decide whether the community moves forward with a name change. If the vote is in favor of a change, a process for finding agreement on a new name would then commence. RSFA’s preference would have been to have more community discussions and education before having a vote.
How is this different than the vote last year?
The vote that took place a year ago, in May 2018, asked if the name of Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN) should be changed to Central Park United Neighbors. Voting was in person only at the SUN meeting, and open to all owning or renting a home in Stapleton, Denver. The number of ballots cast was 452, out of over 8,000 households. To pass, per SUN bylaws, it needed 66% in favor. The outcome was 58% in favor, so SUN’s name remained the same. This MCA vote will differ from last year’s SUN vote and past MCA delegate votes in that it will be a secret ballot but numbered to represent the property.
An article about this vote in the June Front Porch included a graphic showing the MCA governance structure. To view past Front Porch articles on Renaming Stapleton visit: FrontPorchNE.com > News > Stapleton Articles. To contact your community delegate, visit StapletonCommunity.com/MCA-info/community-delegates.
Letters to the Editor
Brooke Lee – Change the Name
Participating in the Stapleton name change debate has been one of the most illuminating experiences of my life. When I first learned about the legacy behind the name Stapleton, I was shocked that the neighborhood that I had come to love so much could be associated with the KKK. I attended a SUN meeting in September 2015 to learn more, and was moved by the words of Jewish resident Bob Segal, who recalled the KKK marching down Colfax Avenue every Friday on Shabbat. I tried to imagine what it must have felt like to witness the cross burnings, bombings, mobs, and harassment with no one to turn to because Mayor Ben Stapleton appointed a klansman as the cheif of police.
Learning that Denver residents had voiced their opposition to the use of the name Stapleton long before the development had ever begun construction was another gut punch. They were assured that the use of the name Stapleton was temporary, but there appears to be no intention on the part of the developer to keep that promise.
What has genuinely shaken me even more is the dismissive and derisive way in which my neighbors have engaged in the debate about the name change. I have witnessed supporters of the name change being called stupid, idiots, out of touch with reality, and told to move somewhere else if we don’t like the name Stapleton. We’ve been characterized as shady outsiders, asked what country we come from, and told to please just go away. In an impressive display of mental gymnastics, these same neighbors claim that Stapleton the community is welcoming and inclusive, and have denied that any racism or white privilege exists in our neighborhood. While children have been called the N-word in our schools. While Isabella Bird Community School was vandalized with swastikas. While Spanish-speaking nannies were frequently commanded to speak English at the Cottonwood Gallery playground or leave. While a resident followed home a Korean-American family and told them to leave, that they don’t belong here, and later hurled racial slurs at construction workers. While another resident told a young black man to remove his hoodie because it made her uncomfortable. Our neighbors are being racially profiled, subjected to micro-aggressions, and outright aggression. These are actual experiences that are happening to our neighbors.
“Get over it,” they say. How can anyone get over something that is still happening? For me, the name “Stapleton” will forever call to mind the harassment that my husband endured at the hands of Klansmen in his childhood in Louisiana, and the terror that the KKK inflicted in Denver in the 1920s and throughout our country over the last century. But because of this debate, the name “Stapleton” will also remind me of my present-day neighbors who defend the honor of a Klansman while remaining oblivious to or denying the difficult realities that are lived by many of their neighbors. Who, intentionally or not, belittle and marginalize those of us who are hurt by the continued use of the name Stapleton in a place of honor in our community. Who feel that our opposition and pain simply do not matter.
To my friends and neighbors who have made an effort to learn about experiences other than their own with an open heart and mind, I thank you. Our conversations about diversity and what real inclusion looks like have helped us understand each other more deeply and intimately. This has been the silver lining of the debate thus far. So many of you have even spoken up for us in solidarity – words cannot express how much that means to me. You are the reason I fell in love with this neighborhood and why I am still here. Our children will benefit from the work we are doing together. Please, show up for us and submit your vote to change the name of this neighborhood. We have more work to do beyond the name change. But today, we can right this wrong together.
Bert Singleton – Keep the Name
Stapleton did a lot for Denver while mayor; including building Red Rocks amphitheater and the airport; he also invited the NAACP to hold their national convention in Denver, not the actions of a racist. I think the Rename people…have no idea how hard it must have been for him to change. I’m sure he grew up in a racist family and community and to go against all that takes courage.
Once again, in spite of multiple rejections by the residents of the community of their efforts to rename our community, the Rename Stapleton group is back at it again. – insisting that the residents of Stapleton bend to their will. In that effort they have decided to portray Stapleton residents as wealthy white racists who intentionally try to keep Blacks from moving into Stapleton. On their website they misrepresent all of us through statements including:
- The “neighborhood is exclusive to higher income levels”- I am sure this will come as a surprise to all the families living in income qualified housing and those who are middle class.
- Stapleton “feels like a gated community” – they aren’t referring to physical gates but to attitudes and actions that tell Blacks they aren’t welcome in Stapleton
- A video renaming Stapleton as KKKpleton – mocking everyone who lives in Stapleton as supporters of the Ku Klux Klan
Rather than tell the full story about Ben Stapleton and trusting the residents of Stapleton to make informed decisions, they only present the part of the story that meets their agenda –that Stapleton was a member of the klan. They leave out that he resigned from the klan, fired the chief of police and other klans men in the police force, and in turn was denounced by the klan. To his credit, Stapleton was the driving force in establishing the airport (making Denver the center for air travel in the Rocky Mountain region), while also building Red Rocks amphitheater and promoting an extensive network of parks throughout the city.
I trust the residents of Stapleton to make the right decision once they have all the facts, not a one sided smear campaign
Dan Oltersdorf – Change the name
In 1995, Denver’s biggest Fix and Flip began. The city had a now-defunct 4,700 acre airport site.
Nearly 25 years later, the neighborhood of Stapleton is a thriving model of urban redevelopment that is largely completed, but an ugly scar keeps coming to the surface.
Over the years, there have been conversations, protests and initiatives surrounding the name of the Stapleton Neighborhood due to the KKK affiliation and actions of the former airport’s namesake, a man who served a total of 20 years as Denver’s mayor, starting in the 1920’s. With some exceptions, such as the recent student-led name change of DSST Stapleton to DSST Montview, not much has come from these discussions. This time, however, there is a very real opportunity to make a change that will benefit residents, our children and countless others.
As with previous times when this conversation has come to the fore, resulting commentary on Stapleton’s social media groups has been swift, with reactions ranging from intrigued to dismissive. Many are angry and defensive at the suggestions the name should be changed. Still others debate about whether Stapleton is the ‘inclusive and progressive’ neighborhood concept it has touted itself to be. Some commenters write passionate pleas to take this discussion seriously, and they lament the tone of many of the posts as lacking civility, empathy and understanding.
I, for one, believe this is an opportunity we as a community should make the most of. This is an opportunity to look honestly at who we are and what we can and should be doing to make a positive impact. I am hoping we figure out how to do as a community is to move forward in a positive and productive direction not only with the decision, but also the process before and after the vote is done.
It’s worth putting some perspective around where my thoughts are coming from. I “look” a lot like much of Stapleton. I am a 40-something year old straight, married, white guy with 3 kids and a couple SUVs. While I’m a first generation college student who came from a family that didn’t have much, I am still the picture of privilege in many ways. I’m not ashamed of who I am, but I believe acknowledging where our perspectives come from is a part of the conversation.
Given where I am coming from, I know I can’t begin to pretend to understand the visceral emotion that has been sparked by this issue, particularly for historically (and currently) oppressed groups who see the name Stapleton as a slap in the face, representing not just the dark shadows of America’s past, but of a very flawed present that is marred by daily incidents stemming from ignorance and inequality. I am not personally “hurt” or “offended” by the name, but I know others who are. Others who have a very different lens and set of experiences than I do. Others who I care about enough to think this through more carefully. I also think of my 3 daughters, one of whom was involved in the discussions around the DSST name change, and came through it with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for other perspectives. I want to do the right thing for them.
In many ways, Stapleton is a snapshot of our nation’s reality. We have a lot of good going on in this neighborhood. We have some amazing people. We have an intentionally developed community that was envisioned cater to a wide spectrum of residents, ultimately leading to a rich, vibrant and sustainable community.
We also have some significant division. Based on the latest census data, this neighborhood (the bubble as some have described it) is strikingly homogenous when it comes to race and socio-economic status (SES). Stapleton is predominately white and has a median income that is double the City of Denver’s average. It is surrounded by neighborhoods that are much more racially diverse and range widely in SES. This largely due to the fact this is a newer development in the middle of a city, and the diversity of the neighborhood is slowly improving. The demographics of Stapleton are not something that should be seen as bad, per se, but should be acknowledged as a part of this discussion.
This is the reality. So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?
I don’t have the answers, but I believe this is an opportunity to get into the bigger issues and create something better…. To continue the Fix and Flip
- This is bigger than the name Stapleton. Much bigger.
- This is about making the future better than the past.
- This is about acknowledging wrongs.
- This is about the future.
- This is about history.
- This is about continuing to make Denver’s Biggest Fix and Flip a success story.
Should the name be changed? I believe it should. I believe a bold move like this would make a statement that reflects the progressive approach most residents value and have a ripple effect in our community, bringing hope and taking steps to move us all in a more positive direction.
Equally important to the outcome of this vote is the conversations and actions that have the potential to move us forward.
We must be honest. We must have respect. We must be open.
This resident of “the bubble” hopes we can find ways, big and small to engage in open discussion… and we can take a step in the right direction by voting for this change.
Let’s keep doing this fix and flip thing. I advocate for a name change, but regardless of your feelings on a name change, don’t dismiss the bigger opportunities for growth here.
Ron Adams – Keep the Name
I am opposed to the name change. Current residents and businesses are being asked to bear the financial burden of the name change (in other words, being punished) for Mr. Stapleton’s poor decision almost 100 years ago.
I am most disturbed by the group “Rename Stapleton for All” tactics. Their goal is to accomplish the renaming of our community by any means necessary and they don’t care what it costs(current estimates are at $300,000, and that figure does not include private businesses). If they can they will try to get the name changed even if the vote of the residents of Stapleton is to keep the name. Did you know the following facts:
1.) that the RFSA group tried to take over the MCA board and defeat every incumbent by running their slate of candidates in every district in Stapleton?
2.) that they succeeded in getting two of their candidates elected to the MCA board (District 5 & 9), one of which (District 5) has been an active participant while the delegate from District 9 has showed up to at most one meeting leaving the residents of District 9 essentially without representation on the MCA Board? A question was at the 6/19/19 MCA board meeting about the process for replacing her as District 9 residents are unhappy and feel that they are not represented.
3.) that their goal in taking over the MCA board was to autocratically vote to change the name, have been pushing the delegates to vote for a name change without input from residents, and they vigorously fought this very ballot process which gives you your voice?
4.) that RSFA has been using up valuable meeting time of several boards in Stapleton, prolonging meetings and short shrifting discussion due to time constraints of several other important community issues, such as parks, pools, landscaping, diversity and promoting affordable housing?
5.) that they get people to support their cause by creating divisiveness through the spread of negative emotions in people, by making them ANGRY (over something that happened almost 100 years ago) FEARFUL they scared school children at DSST: Stapleton to the point that they are fearful of the very name Stapleton ( from a Front Porch article, hence the name change to DSST: Montview), and GUILTY (by taking responsibility for something someone else did almost 100 years ago)? By the way, they call this propagation of anger, fear and guilt “educating” people.
6.) that some of the members of RSFA have called people that don’t believe the way they do racists on social media and in person? (It happened during the MCA board meeting on 6/19/19 where one member called everyone in the room a racist). By the way, if you are not in favor of a name change, you are NOT a racist.
We need to focus on current residents and businesses of our community. No proven institutional or systemic racial discrimination exists in our community, and in fact a real estate transfer fee is collected at every Stapleton real estate closing, which is transferred to the Stapleton Foundation (now called the Foundation for Sustainable Communities). The funds from this fee is used to further the goal of affordable housing in Stapleton by buying expiring FIQH housing units to continue the program. The real estate transfer fee is based on the value of the home closed. Stapleton residents generous financial support of the FFSC should be promoted as a way that Stapleton residents advocate for housing affordablity in our community.
We need to move on from this renaming issue. While those against the name change will move on if the vote results in favor of a name change, if the vote doesn’t go their way the RSFA group has vowed to try to defeat the generous volunteer delegates on the board that oppose them, so that they can change the name against the will of the residents. Their delegate from District 5 even stated, “well, in some cases, leaders make the change against the will of the people and then after a time people accept it”. This is autocracy at best.
The only way to end this so that we can move on is to cast your vote as follows:
Question #1: The name STAPLETON SHOULD BE RETAINED as the legal name of the community
Question #2: The MCA SHOULD NOT enact a special assessment and;
Question #3: VOTE IN FAVOR and approve the proposed amendment
Question #3 is important. This will prevent the RSFA group from changing the name against the will of the residents by taking over the MCA board and having the delegates vote their way. This amendment will require 51% of all the residents in the community to approve a name change, making it much harder to change the name against the will of the residents.
Sandra Burroughs – Change the name
You had me at KKK.
The KKK was and is a terrorist hate group. Whether or not Ben Stapleton remained a member for the sake of politics is irrelevant. He did the thing. His membership automatically disqualifies him from earning a place of honor, then and now. No excuses, no exceptions. This is just one of many reasons I support a name change and will vote YES on ballot question #1. Stapleton’s KKK membership alone is enough.
Forest City faced opposition to the name Stapleton from bordering community members, from the very beginning of this new neighborhood development. Forest City plowed ahead with the name anyway, knowing Stapleton’s KKK history. Because of Forest City’s continued disregard for the voices of those closest to the new development, Forest City should be held financially responsible for all neighborhood renaming and be accountable for all the rebranding of small businesses in the community for those that choose to drop the name Stapleton from their business names. For this, I will vote NO on ballot question #2. The residents of the community should not have to foot the bill for Forest City’s indifference.
As far as ballot question #3, I’m voting NO. The changes being proposed now are going to happen anyway in 2021. Whether this change happens now or later, it is undemocratic and dilutes the voting power of residents. Any new vote will require turnout from 51% of residences AND 51% of commercial votes AND 51% of apartment votes. Historically less than 10% of eligible voters participate in these MCA votes.
Ultimately, I believe renaming our community can rebuild the foundation for an even more welcoming, inclusive future. I’ve read more than a few comments in the various community Facebook pages claiming that changing the name will not make those who are affected by the name feel any better or secure in their own neighborhood. They are wrong. A name change can do a lot more for the mental health of your neighbors than you can even imagine. As someone who has been living with a knot in my chest over this issue, I can tell you it affects one’s mental health. My vote in favor of a name change is like putting a premium on and valuing the quality of life for my neighbors and myself.
Rob LeBoeuf – Change the Name
Stapleton began planning its transition from airport to residential community in 1990 with the intent to develop an inclusive community; embracing a socioeconomically diverse population, with an eye toward conservation and sustainability. As such, it imagined itself as a progressive community, thoughtfully designed to provide housing and services for people from all ethnicities, backgrounds, and lifestyles. A quick look around Stapleton affirms the goal of various housing price points and green spaces.
While Benjamin Stapleton, for whom the former airport was named, was a savvy business man and brought some positive changes to Denver, his involvement with, and loyalty to the KKK is undeniable and makes inclusion a difficult concept to demonstrate as long as our community bares his name.
As a resident and business leader in this community, I cannot turn a blind eye to history. It’s hard to imagine any of our neighbors who have become aware of Ben Stapleton’s KKK associated words and actions, wanting to call their home by his name.
The simplest first step we can take to harmonize the DNA of our community is to change its name to one that doesn’t continue to divide our community or tie us by name to the part of our city’s past that was opposed to equality and inclusion.
Our community is diverse, and we say we are inclusive so let’s use our voices by voting to dissociate our community from the name “Stapleton” as a clear and distinct statement of who we are not.
Dana Steidtmann – Change the Name
Changing the name is consistent with our community’s values.
I am writing to urge my neighbors to vote in favor of changing the name of the Stapleton neighborhood. In the time I have lived in the Stapleton community, I have been so grateful for the kindness that emanates daily from people who live here. We are a community that values equality, tolerance and inclusivity. Before moving to the neighborhood, the name conjured up memories from when I had flown out of the airport as a child. However, after moving here as an adult, I learned more about the history of the airport’s namesake, Benjamin Stapleton. As I learned about his involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, I came to understand how hurtful the neighborhood name is, especially for people of color.
Now that we know better, let’s do better! Voting to rename the neighborhood is an important chance for us to demonstrate our value of inclusivity and show compassion to those who are harmed by the name. In the June issue of the Front Porch, an argument opposing the effort to rename stated, “An airport or even a mayor do not define what this community is today; we do.” I wholeheartedly agree that we define our community. With that power, let us vote to let go of a name that is painful to so many and look forward to finding a name that ALL residents can celebrate.