Two citizen-led petitions are circulating Parker to finally give the residents a voice regarding two vital pieces of Mainstreet land.
Updated at 8:30 p.m. on 5/31/19**
Promising "growth for downtown Parker," the My Mainstreet project had pledged to gather the input of the public before doing anything definite, since the undeveloped land technically belongs to the taxpayers (purchased by the citizens of Parker between 2002 and 2005 for municipal use).
But public input never happened – not properly anyway. Now the town council is under fire for proceeding to a vote and decision to move forward with development, without ever officially surveying the citizens.
"They're basing their actions on the results of a particular survey that said people were wanting more walkable commercial space," Councilwoman Cheryl Poage, one of the two councilmembers to vote against the real estate contract, told me in an exclusive interview. "That study was rather flawed. Approximately 700 people responded to the survey out of 50,000-plus people. But when you run surveys, you can't take a very small percentage of the population and call it valid."
In addition, three of the five parcels that are for sale will make good walkable commercial space downtown, Poage points out. Nobody's contesting that.
Two of the plots, however, are at the center of great debate and concern: Pine Curve and PACE Lot 2, both of which are zoned as "Greater Downtown."
Images taken from the My Mainstreet Strategic Framework
A 24.4-acre piece of land, Pine Curve lies directly to the east of downtown Parker, where East Mainstreet comes to a T intersection with Pine Drive.
This is, in fact, the third time that the Parker Town Council has broached the subject of selling the Pine Curve property within 10 years, all in the hopes of handing it off to a developer who will stack the space with a grocery store, a strip center, and apartments.
The first two times, residents fought back against the initiatives, worried that the development of Pine Curve would result in an even bigger traffic and congestion headache of what is already an incredibly dense area. But the March 18 vote marks the first time that the land has actually been put up for sale.
Images taken from the My Mainstreet Strategic Framework
"That very busy road and intersection already carries the load for people traveling back and forth from our eastern subdivisions, as well as the library, the PACE center, and town hall," Poage said, explaining why she voted against the real estate deal. "It has historically been an open space area. For me, it's a traffic issue. We already have a lot of high-density housing here, and everybody I've talked to doesn't want any more. They want that site left as open space."
Terry Dodd, chairman of one of the two committees working to give citizens a voice regarding the development, agrees.
"If they try to pigeon-hole a bunch of commercial and big boxes in there and put it up against the existing residential community, it's going to block view quarters and create a traffic problem," he told me. "It's just going to continue to be a congested bottleneck. All these town councilmembers have businesses in Parker, and they are under the mistaken belief that if they increase density it's going to benefit their businesses. When you overcrowd and create traffic issues, you end up defeating yourself. They're under the assumption that if you want more revenue, more power, and more business, the way to achieve it is density."
In fact, the Parker Mainstreet Master Plan states clearly that density is the goal: "The Town desires to strengthen its identity and grow downtown into an economically vibrant, dense, and exciting area recognized as a destination and place of opportunity."
But if you have to sit in frustrating bumper-to-bumper traffic to experience downtown Parker's charm, isn't that self-defeating? Where is the charm in that? How do density and congestion equal a positive visitor experience? Anybody who's been to Parker Days or the Sunday farmers' market or any other event along Mainstreet knows that the congestion is the biggest drawback of attending downtown events – or even venturing downtown on a regular day, for that matter. Why exacerbate that problem?
Parker, Arts, Culture, and Events Center (PACE) Lot 2
Those same questions apply to PACE Lot 2, which could lose most of its parking if developers have their way. The contested plot is comprised of the PACE Center's north parking lot and the attached vacant, undeveloped lot adjacent to Mainstreet.
Courtesy of Facebook
While the real estate listing does not include the parking lot in its photo, the parking lot is included in the parcel, according to the Douglas County Tax Assessor's website. Whether that's an oversight on NAVPoint Real Estate's part or a maneuver to keep the public from truly understanding what will be lost is yet to be determined.
However, here are two different renderings showing some possible concepts for the site:
Images taken from the My Mainstreet Strategic Framework
Poage, Dodd, and others are concerned that the $21 million PACE Center will be negatively affected if the developer decides to eliminate the current parking lot and build over it.
Even if the builder doesn't get rid of the parking lot, additional businesses that go up in the adjacent open field will put a strain on the existing parking situation, which is already limited considering that the multi-activity facility's main auditorium has 542 seats, to approximately 250 total parking spots.
In the north parking lot specifically (the one that's up for debate), there are about 180 spaces alone. Loss of any parking could seriously cripple and handicap the state-of-the-art facility's ability to serve the town in the way it has for the past decade.
"It is important to note that any proposals submitted by potential development applicants must adhere to recently approved parking regulations," the Town of Parker said in a statement issued to OCN. "These regulations require new development projects to actually add to downtown parking capacity while also not removing existing capacity. While existing parking lots may be reconfigured, a reduction in capacity would not be allowed."
"I truly believe that that parking lot, if nothing else, needs to be left as is," Poage said. "And if we can find a way with the greenway concept to put a statue park or something to add a couple more rows of parking, that would be awesome. But to hide the PACE Center with 35-foot structures? We've put $21 million into the PACE Center. Why do we want to strip it of its available parking when it needs more? Why do we want to hide that facility behind taller buildings?"
The My Mainstreet plan shows two-story projects all the way down Mainstreet, in front of the PACE Center.
Another concern is the retention pond on the west side of PACE Lot 2, which would also need to be taken into consideration before doing anything on that plot.
If all this is what Parker residents want, then that's one thing. But what's strange is that the councilmembers seem dead-set on developing these areas, regardless of how the people feel.
In fact, Poage points out that this kind of development should have been on a ballot to begin with.
"I feel that the citizens need to decide what they want with those two parcels," Poage told me. "And to not put it on the ballot, but just to sell it when it's the taxpayers' money that bought it – it's kind of a problem."
But here's where it gets dicier:
When the town council voted on March 18, the Parker town attorney also announced that a one-percent cancelation fee was included in the agreement with NAVPoint, so that if a citizen ballot initiative forced the town council to cancel any part of the sale, NAVPoint would still get paid.
One percent of the PACE Lot 2 and Pine Curve sales would total as much as $97,000.
According to Dodd and Mike Roueche, the chairman of the committee to Save Pine Curve 3.0, the town attorney "claimed the realty company wouldn’t sign without such a clause. But when queried by Council Member Jeff Toborg if he had been asked if he would proceed without the 1% gift, the Realtor responded frankly, 'Yeah, just tonight.' The Town lawyer and Council knew it was attaching a possible $97,000 plus expenses cost to be gifted to a Realtor if citizens didn’t want exactly what Town Council wants. We think that is at least irresponsible governance. It feels like coercion: 'If you don’t like what we’ve done, we'll take $97,000 from you.'"
Regardless of the councilmembers' intents behind the potential development and the almost mind-bending drama, one thing remains clear: If these two parcels belong to the Parker citizens, then the citizens should decide what to do with it.
The survey that My Mainstreet completed to gather the input of Parker citizens consisted of a mere 20 people at the library, 300 people at the 2018 Arbor Day event, 150 people at the 2018 Senior Stroll event, and 150 people at an ice cream social – a grand total of 620 participants.
And among the options that the community was presented for the property, nowhere was there any mention of this option: doing nothing at all. Rezoning the areas as open space and leaving the areas permanently undeveloped was never even given as an option to community members who were approached for their opinion.
"What the town council has done with the previous surveys that they have done is that they've basically ignored anything but commercial," Dodd said. "It's like they've said, 'You can have anything you want as long as it's commercial.'"
So Dodd and Roueche are proposing an ordinance that the two parcels be rezoned as open space and have formed their respective committees to put these measures on the ballot.
Each committee, representing each of the two pieces of land, has a separate town-approved petition, which must have 5,736 voter signatures (15 percent of the 38,242 registered voters) before the groups' self-imposed deadline of July 1. If they are able to get enough voters to sign the petitions, the ordinances will appear on the November ballot.
To sign the petition, you have to be a registered voter within the Town of Parker.
Canvassers will be available with the petitions at the following dates/times:
- Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. | The Center at Creekside Recreation Center in Stroh Ranch | 19301 J. Morgan Blvd., Parker
- Wednesday, June 5, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. | Parker Library
- Saturday, June 8, 9:30–11:30 a.m. | Parker Recreation Center | 17301 Lincoln Ave., Parker
For more information and to stay up-to-date on the petitions, visit and join the committees' Facebook page.
"I think the citizens want those spaces left open. I've not had anybody tell me that they want what's being proposed," Poage said. "We feel that it is the citizens' decision. And so the effort is to let the citizens decide."
What do you think? Should the town council have put the initiative to the voters before proceeding with the real estate contract? What do you think about the one-percent cancelation fee? What do you think should be done with the two parcels? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
**This article was updated to clarify zoning classifications, change wording regarding the renderings of potential development concepts, and include a statement from Town of Parker regarding parking.