Parker’s future is so bright, mayor Mike Waid needs sunglasses.
Waid provided a snapshot of ongoing trends and initiatives during the fourth annual State of the Town April 2 at the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, and donned a pair of shades to demonstrate his point about the shining beacon that he believes is the town’s future.
Introduced by his family, Waid began by describing the charm that has defined Parker since it was established, as Pine Grove, in 1864. He gave mention to landmarks like the Mainstreet Center and Ruth Memorial Chapel, a quaint church in downtown Parker that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It continues to host weddings and community events.
Waid also took the opportunity to laud more recent additions to Parker’s landscape, like the 530-seat performing arts center that hosted the Rotary-sponsored State of the Town.
“We are what many towns dream to become,” he said.
While addressing the rise in residential housing permits, from 112 in 2010 to 419 in 2012, the mayor said “the secret is out” and more people are discovering that Parker is a good place to both raise a family and open a business. He pointed out that elected officials are committed to making sure Parker grows responsibly.
Waid talked about the town’s ability to withstand the economic recession.
“We weathered the storm quite well,” he said.
Sales tax revenues, which never dipped severely, are increasing and vacant store fronts have been filled, in part, through town-sponsored programs like the Business in Transition Program, which helps fledgling businesses grow by paying a portion of their rent over the first three years.
Citing the creation of public-private partnerships and the approval of two urban renewal districts to clean up “blight” and attract businesses, Waid said the town is taking a proactive approach to economic development with the hopes of adding jobs.
Parker is a “thriving community” with big recreation plans on the horizon, including the expansion of the Parker Recreation Center and possible addition of an adventure race course at Salisbury Equestrian Park, he said. The town is also planning on establishing a public ice rink, revising the master plan for O’Brien Park and partnering with a private entity on a regional competitive aquatics center.
The mayor, who took office in December, reiterated his call for public involvement in civic and nonprofit organizations, saying there are plenty of opportunities for such volunteerism in Douglas County. He is still making a push for Parker residents to shop locally, saying that roughly 88 cents of every dollar spent in Parker stays in town, compared with 45 cents on every dollar spent at nationally owned stores.