The PACE Center was filled with people as Mayor Jeff Toborg, on May 23 delivered an address during the 14th annual State of the Town co-hosted by the Town of Parker and Rotary Club of Parker.
“The state of our town is growing with incredible families who are choosing to live, work and learn,” Toborg said.
Among the business owners and sponsors in attendance were state Rep. Anthony Hartsook, R-Douglas County, Douglas County Commissioners, representatives from the Parker Police, the Water and Sanitation District, Parker Chamber of Commerce, members of the U.S. Marine Corps and others.
Jeremy Hubbard, a Fox31 News anchor, was master of ceremonies.
With service and volunteerism at the forefront, the Parker Rotary Club puts “service above self.” For the 12th year, two members of the community received Impact Awards that recognize an individual or group who made a significant impact on the quality of life in Parker and the surrounding area.
“The criteria is simply that they must serve either in an employment situation or as a volunteer monitoring, being part of and excelling in the service above self,” said club member Dan O’Neill, in presenting the awards. “These people have taken it one step further.”
Although he was not there, one recipient was Bob Baker, the fire chief from the South Metro Fire Rescue district.
“Bob Baker has taken that department to a level of professionalism that goes above and beyond just being a fire chief in a metropolitan area,” said O’Neill.
The South Metro Fire District has been awarded an ISO Class 1 Designation by the Insurance Services Organization. In addition, through social media and a website, Baker has directed a social presence, helping to make the district one of the most well followed.
The second recipient was long-time community volunteer and rotarian, Kam Breitenbach. Not only known as Mrs. Claus during the holidays and time working with the Chamber of Commerce, Breitenbach started a rotary satellite club dedicated to and consists of adults who are developmentally disabled.
In addition to being a member of multiple nonprofit organizations and in the Mountain Pine Women’s Club, Breitenbach was active with Marshall fire victims following the devastating fire in in Boulder County.
“That’s not Parker, but that’s Kam,” said O’Neill.
Parker Youth Commission
One year ago, the Town of Parker approved the Parker Youth Commission. Since then, nine high schoolers have worked with leaders in the community to represent, engage and advocate for local youth.
Iris Pixler, chairperson of the youth commission and recent Legend High School graduate, spoke about opportunities the commission created, such as a mural project, as well as a partnership with the Parker Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Alliance to communicate internship opportunities.
The commission also toured Douglas County voting center to learn more about ballot counting and local elections. They even took what they learned to three middle schools to encourage students to get involved in local government.
Another accomplishment is the creation of two awards. The Pride of Parker award, which will gift a $100 gift card to five middle school students who express what Parker means to them through a visual art piece. The Spirit of Parker award will be a $1,000 scholarship presented to two high school students who have made significant contributions to the town.
“I learned that even as a young member of the community, I have the power to make a difference and enact positive change,” said Pixler. “I hope to continue inspiring young people to recognize the power their voices hold.”
Law enforcement accomplishments
Parker in the past year hired a new school resource officer to help protect children and teachers.
The town also added a new unit to the Community Response Team to assist in taking care of cases where mental health is a primary concern. Parker received $75,000 in funding from the Douglas County Commissioners for a new CRT vehicle and $168,000 for staffing.
According to Toborg, the town’s police officers also received an increase in compensation this spring, to stay competitive in regional pay. Pay levels helped recruit nine officers last year, the mayor said, with four about to graduate from the academy and one officer sworn in on May 24.
Economic, business and finance development
Late last year, the town took a step to make Parker a hub for activity through an agreement with Confluence Companies to develop six vacant parcels known as the My Mainstreet Project.
The project is a $275-million public-private partnership and is the largest economic development project in downtown Parker history, according to officials.
“More than 140,000 square feet of commercial office space and an estimated 574 residential spaces, including for-sale condos,” said Toborg.
In addition, plans include a parking garage with 250 spaces as well as an outdoor community plaza, a new public park and art installation.
To grow employment opportunities, on the north side of town there will be an industrial space anticipated to bring more than 200 engineering, development, manufacturing and technology jobs.
The town created the Parker Economic Playbook to guide economic efforts by creating policies and programs to help expand employment opportunities and promote economic resiliency.
Several new businesses have opened and more are expected to. The town council has modified the municipal code to no longer require a payment for a business license.
As new businesses like Black Rock Cafe have opened, stores, food chains and other businesses such as Whole Foods, In-N-Out and Chicken N Pickle will be making their way into the town.
“The stories of local businesses are amazing and as you enter a shop here in Parker, everyone of them has a story to tell,” said Toborg. “Everyone of them has a story of why they chose Parker, why they chose their business and again, why they’re thriving. Nothing fails in Parker.”
Community development and infrastructure
Since the town was incorporated in 1981, the town has undergone its first modification to land development ordinances. According to Toborg, this process provides consistent and predictable ability to the development community.
Following will be an update to the 2035 Master Plan.
With houses being built in the southwest area of town, other projects include several roadway projects meant to provide better connectivity in the community, such as the extension of Chambers Road from Hess to Stroh Road and an extension to Dransfeldt Road.
Engineering and public works are also in the process of updating lighting and sidewalks throughout the town.
“When you see the vacant land being developed and you say ‘remember when Parker’,” said Toborg. “When you see that, what you have to recognize is probably 40% to 50% of what that developer could have built on has been carved out for parks, for open space, for undevelopable land. The town protects what you love.”
Parks, recreation and open space
“For the first time ever, we have a parks, recreation and open space commission,” said Toborg. “To advise the council on just that, on parks, programs, open space and recreation programs. We’re excited to work with these commission members to continue offering the very best recreation programs and amenities that our residents have come to expect.”
In light of the renovations to O’Brien Park, the recreation department has been re-accredited for the amenities as it is American with Disabilities Act and sensory compliant.
The town recently opened a new 15-acre park for residents at the trails of Crowfoot and has planned a 90-acre expansion of Salisbury Park and the 72-acre Harvey Open Space is planned to be open by the end of the year.
In addition to the High Plains Regional Trail, Toborg thanked other partnerships like the Rueter-Hess Advisory Board and the Parker Water and Sanitation District as they create recreation for the reservoir.
“I am always surprised at what a relatively small group of people, dedicated, can accomplish in a year,” said Toborg.