Where some people see an expanse of untouched land, others see economic opportunity.
The renewed effort to connect Stroh Road to Interstate 25 could be gaining traction as a group of investors makes its case to turn the road into a commercial corridor. The investors say the development of Stroh Road could bring employment centers closer to the suburbs and alleviate traffic congestion on the southern edge of the metro area.
The corridor could also provide an “economic windfall,” particularly for Parker, said Paul Weaver, a retired Air Force general turned consultant and lobbyist for Virginia-based PAW & Associates. Weaver is representing the dozen or so unnamed investors as he presents the plan to elected officials in Douglas County to secure letters of support. He spoke to Parker Town Council during a study session Aug. 26.
“The first people you want to get on board are the government bodies,” Weaver said, before noting that landowners who would be affected by potential development have not yet been contacted.
An alignment for Stroh Road was on the county’s transportation master plan for decades and was widely regarded as a crucial connection between Parker and I-25, but concerns from former Parker Water and Sanitation District Manager Frank Jaeger derailed the idea. Jaeger worried that bridging inlet channels into Rueter-Hess Reservoir would increase the likelihood of contaminants entering the water supply. Without approval from the water district, Douglas County was forced to instead build Hess Road on the north side of the reservoir at a higher cost.
The Stroh Road alignment was previously approved by Douglas County and the Army Corps of Engineers, but an updated environmental impact study would be required. Weaver said although he can make no guarantees, there is a good chance of securing federal transportation funding in the form of TIGER Grants, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, to cover the cost of building “shovel-ready” Stroh Road, which now stands at $31 million.
According to a financial impact study commissioned by PAW & Associates, commercial and residential development along the road could provide $7.2 billion in market value to the county, including $6.4 billion in real estate. Weaver’s next visit will be in front of the Douglas County commissioners.
“Once they see the numbers and how it can benefit them, it’s a non-decision,” he said. “I feel more confident now than I ever have.”
When asked about local concerns about out-of-state interests coming in with a sizable development plan, Weaver pointed out that two of the investors live in Colorado and asked him to look into the economic potential of building Stroh Road. If there is significant opposition from the public, the investors will go elsewhere, Weaver said.
Parker Town Councilmember Josh Rivero said an additional east-west corridor into Parker “would be a wonderful thing,” but he cautioned that the town must perform due diligence before signing a letter of support for Stroh Road. Rivero said he is curious about the financial impact and whether or not the road would be considered right-of-way when private property is acquired. He also wonders whether Weaver, who came with a map with the original reservoir plan, understands the size of the enlarged 72,000 acre-foot Rueter-Hess Reservoir.
Mayor Mike Waid was not present during Weaver’s visit, and Rivero said the six members of council have to discuss the proposal in a study session or closed-door executive session before making a decision or commenting on its merits.
For his part, Weaver says he senses a “tremendous turnaround of support” compared with the first round of meetings in February.
“We’re very particular about what we go into, and when we do it, we’re confident it will be good for everyone,” he said.