Parker was not exempt from the debate that consumed Denver-area suburbs in the 2010s: What to do about the inevitable, rising rate of growth in places that value being part of a small town? Versions …
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Parker was not exempt from the debate that consumed Denver-area suburbs in the 2010s: What to do about the inevitable, rising rate of growth in places that value being part of a small town?
Versions of that debate broke out throughout the decade in deciding how to develop the Town of Parker. Maintaining a “small-town feel” was Parker's biggest topic of the 2010s.
“Despite the fact we've grown over (the past 10 years), despite there being a small group of people very much against growth in Parker, we've been able to maintain the small, quaint, hometown feel,” said Mayor Mike Waid. Waid was elected mayor in 2012 after serving on council from 2008-12. “The best part over the last 10 years or 20 years, despite the size, people still remain neighborly to keep that small, hometown feel.”
In the 2010s, Parker's town staff redesigned its downtown to become the envy of surrounding municipalities, including the relocation of the Parker Police Department, which moved into its new station on Lincoln Meadows Parkway in 2010 from its original location where O'Brien Park currently sits. O'Brien Park is now a staple venue for community events.
The Douglas County Public Library at the east end of Mainstreet went up quicker than expected thanks to a partnership with the town and Douglas County Libraries.
“I would define 2010 as the time where Parker came out of its adolescence and became a young adult,” Waid said.
But Parker had its share of growing pains.
People concerned about Parker losing its small-town feel took to the council lectern to voice opposition to many proposed developments, most notably and consistently the Pine Curve property.
The Pine Curve property, a 24-acre lot at East Mainstreet and Pine Drive, has been the center of development controversy throughout the decade. Anti-growth activists attempted to have the property's zoning put up to a vote, an attempt that failed to garner enough petition signatures to move to a special election. One interested would-be buyer of the property terminated its sale and purchase agreement with the town. Town officials stated the developer and town did not meet eye-to-eye on the vision for the property.
In 2011, the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center opened downtown, immediately becoming a regional draw that has hosted everything from community theatre programs to celebrity headliners. The Parker Schoolhouse completed its renovation and opened its plaza to finish off 2019.
“In this era of growth in Denver, traffic is a big deal and people really appreciate they don't have to drive very far and parking is fairly easy,” said Elaine Mariner, culture director for the PACE Center. “So many people in Parker have a connection to the Schoolhouse and they've been so appreciative the town preserved the historic part and the renovated the theater and lobby.”
The Parker Rec Center, Parker Fieldhouse and Rueter-Hess Reservoir were improved. The trail system expanded. The town acquired the Harvie Open Space, near Canterberry Parkway and East Mainstreet. The Parker Racquet Club opened in 2019, becoming its own regional draw for large-scale tennis tournaments.
The My Mainstreet Project surveyed residents as to what they'd like to see in downtown Parker in the future, an initiative that has contributed to Parker being recognized nationally for its citizen engagement.
As 2020 roars on, Parker looks to the west. The West End on Mainstreet development promises to bring more vibrancy in the form of the Laszlo Hotel, which opened Dec. 19, and the rest of the West End development will bring a shopping center as well.
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