Between new parks and outdoor spaces, Town staff recognitions and the expansion of community programs, 2017 was a banner year for the Town of Parker. Before we turn the page to 2018, take a look back at some of our favorite local happenings from the past year.
Discovery Park Concert Series introduced
Music rang over Discovery Park on Thursdays all summer long thanks to Parker Arts’ new concert series at the outdoor amphitheater. While initially planned for June and July, the popularity of the free musical shows resulted in the addition of five weeknight shows through the first week of September. The Discovery Park Concert Series will return with more entertainment this coming year.
The Schoolhouse renovation nears completion
The three-year endeavor to restore and renovate the century-old Parker Consolidated Schoolhouse building on Mainstreet entered its final phase in 2017.
Now known as The Schoolhouse, the building was constructed between 1914 and 1915. The project, which began in 2015, has refurbished much of the original building to its historical appearance. The first phase of work restored the Mainstreet-facing windows and entrance. A second phase, completed in late 2016, included replacement of the heating system, creation of an enlarged dance studio in the lower level, window rehab, and exposing and restoring the original wood trim and flooring throughout the lower level. The current and final phase has focused on restoring the first floor and converting it into a flexible gallery and event space, an elevator addition, exterior brick restoration, a new roof and restoration of the rooftop cupola.
Renovations have also taken place in The Schoolhouse annex. Once complete, the space will feature a renovated 200-seat theater and a new box office and concessions stand.
Mainstreet lights installed
Adding sparkle to downtown, 39 strands of LED lights were installed over Mainstreet in the spring. The lights will illuminate the area at night year-round. Among the features of the addition are automatic sensors to turn them on and off based on the level of light. The lights also have been designed and engineered to withstand 100 mph winds!
Harvie Open Space announced
In early January 2017, the Board of Douglas County Commissioners conveyed a 74-acre property known as the Harvie Open Space (Ray J. Harvie Park) to the Town of Parker. The property, located just north of Mainstreet and Canterberry Parkway, will be maintained by Parker and used for open space and passive recreation.
Ray J. Harvie donated a conservation easement on his 74-acre property to the Douglas Land Conservancy in 1996. Simultaneous with the conservation easement, Harvie deeded the property to Douglas County and retained a life estate. Upon his death, the county took legal title to the property in 2010 and maintained the property until the Town of Parker accepted ownership.
A Conservation Easement exists on the property, so allowed uses are limited to passive recreation, which could include soft-surface trails, interpretive signage, picnic shelters, restrooms and parking access for the site. Initial improvements are anticipated to be constructed in 2018.
Rueter-Hess Reservoir sees first recreation activities
Parker Town Council approved an intergovernmental agreement to introduce recreational opportunities at Rueter-Hess Reservoir in May. With direction from the Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority, the Parker Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department began offering stand up paddleboarding rentals and lessons at the reservoir. An open water swim race was held in July as well. For general information about Rueter-Hess Reservoir, visit www.RHRecreation.org.
Town launches transparency initiatives
To make it easier for residents to connect with councilmembers and staff, and to provide streamlined access to Town meetings and development information, several transparency initiatives began this year.
Planning Commission Live Streaming: Joining Town Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings are now live streamed on the Town’s Facebook page (@TownofParkerCO). Following each meeting, a link to the recorded footage is added to the Planning Commission Agendas and Minutes page on the Town website and on the Town’s YouTube page.
Connect with Council: In August, the Parker Town Council and staff began hosting Connect with Council booths at community events. The informal settings encouraged residents to interact with Town leaders and staff and pick up some giveaways.
Town Staff Features: The Town rolled out “Meet Our Staff” and “Meet Our Department” features to introduce the community to employees working to make Parker a great place to live as well as provide behind-the-scenes perspective of departmental operations. The features appear on the Town’s website and social media accounts.
Development Tour Map: A new Development Tour Map was introduced in the fall to provide information and updates about development projects taking place in Parker. The map contains a variety of different types of projects, including developments under review, developments under construction, annexations, site plans, subdivisions and zoning changes. You can view the map at www.ParkerOnline.org/Development.
Open budget: The Town of Parker’s Finance Department launched Open Budget Parker. This website allows the Town to communicate its budget, often a complex process, in an easy-to-understand way. It provides a guided view through the budget while allowing a transparent look at how public funds are allocated. Find the budget at www.ParkerOnline.org/OpenBudget.
Dog Park and Disc Golf Course open
A dedicated dog park and disc golf course opened in June. The USMC CPL David M. Sonka Dog Park features nearly five acres of off-leash space with shade structures, drinking fountains, small dog area and an agility course. The park is named after Corporal David M. Sonka who graduated from Chaparral High School. In 2013, Corporal Sonka and his military working dog, Flex, were killed in action in Afghanistan.
The Westcreek Disc Golf Course is located adjacent to the dog park and includes 18 holes designed with assistance from local enthusiasts and experts.
New wayfinding signage placed downtown
Providing orientation and directional assistance to residents and visitors, wayfinding signage was installed throughout the downtown district. The various vehicular and pedestrian signs along Mainstreet and surrounding downtown areas lead the way to Town landmarks, civic buildings and parks, public parking, highlight shopping and dining locations areas and provide information about the Town and its history. The wayfinding program was the result of an implemented recommendation from the Mainstreet Master Plan, a planning project of the Community Development Department to preserve and improve the Mainstreet corridor for years to come.
Parker PD receives Colorado Special Olympics honor
The Parker Police Department was named the 2017 Law Enforcement Agency of the Year by Colorado Special Olympics and inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame.
Parker PD was honored at the Special Olympics Colorado Hall of Fame Luncheon in September as the top law enforcement agency fundraiser for the previous year. The department raised more than $18,000 during the year and won the Highest Tip Raiser Hamburger Trophy at the Red Robin Tip-a-Cop event as the highest law enforcement fundraiser statewide in 2016. Parker PD was also recognized for years of participation in the Chili’s and Texas Roadhouse Tip-a-Cop fundraisers, Special Olympics Plane Pull, Polar Plunge and Law Enforcement Torch Run.
First Hometown Holiday Weekend held
Hometown Holiday Weekend brought together favorite Parker holiday traditions with new seasonal activities for three days of events Nov. 24 to 26. The weekend began with Mayor’s Holiday Lighting and the opening of the Parker Ice Trail and continued with carriage rides and entertainment at Discovery Park. Unseasonably warm weather brought large crowds downtown to the park lighting, more than 2,100 riders enjoyed carriage rides and hundreds more made the first loops of the season around the Parker Ice Trail over the course of the weekend.