New task force building proposed near town hall

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The Town of Parker will soon decide whether to approve a new building for the Parker Task Force.

The nonprofit task force has raised $600,000 over the last five years to build a new, roomier facility, and made an extensive search for a good location. Its spokeswoman, Diane Roth, says the deeding of a one-acre parcel adjacent to the town’s headquarters last December was the final piece to make that dream come true.

The Parker Task Force has been operating rent-free out of the lower level of the original municipal building, just west of the existing town hall, but things have become more cramped as demand for food-bank services has grown. If the plans are approved by town council, the task force will expand from a 4,500-square-foot space to 8,000 square feet.

The land on the east side of town hall was appraised for $275,000 to $325,000. It was not designated for any specific use, but was previously offered to the Women’s Crisis and Family Outreach Center.

Town Administrator Randy Young was directed by council to identify different parcels to which the task force could potentially relocate. Officials considered a piece of town-owned land near Salisbury Equestrian Park and county-owned property near the Parker Police Department headquarters, but determined that the parcel next to town hall was the most ideal spot.

“They’ve outgrown the space they’re in,” Young said. “It’s a need that the community has that’s not going to go away.”

The additional space would afford more privacy during consultations with clients, Roth says. The land is also centrally located, enabling seniors who live nearby to walk or take a quick bus ride to the food bank. The volunteers who run the task force are especially excited about the prospect of improved organization.

“One of the big benefits is we’re able to design the building as a fully functional food bank and human services agency,” Roth says.

Food will be staged behind the shelves instead of being stored and stacked in cardboard boxes, and walk-in freezers and refrigerators will allow more room for perishables. The parking area is also expected to be larger and more easily accessible.

Having shared a campus with the task force since 2002, the town is happy that the crucial public service agency will stay nearby.

“We have looked at it as a win-win,” Young said. “I’ve learned a lot about the needs we have in this community and was surprised to find out how much need we truly do have.”

The Parker Planning Commission is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to approve the plans, including a design that will resemble surrounding structures.

Roth said the task force is hoping to move into the new facility by Thanksgiving, but the timeline will depend on the approval process and construction schedule.

Homeowners in the Rowley Downs subdivision have opposed the location and appealed to town council to choose a different site.

The food bank was created by three women 26 years ago and originally was housed in a horse barn. It has moved to different town-owned facilities over the years, including the Mainstreet Center, the quonset hut that once stood in O’Brien Park, and the first town hall. The partnership with the town has been crucial.

“Without the support from the Town of Parker, this organization would not have been able to grow and be successful in working in the community,” Roth said.

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