Name: Cheryl Poage
Profession: Retired from South Metro Fire Rescue. Currently works part time with the U.S. Fire Adminstration
My love of Parker started in the '70s, and I am very concerned about the loss of the caring community that I know. Additionally, the impacts from the excessive growth have already impacted traffic and quality of life.
I have the experience and the education to effectively manage that position; I want to lend my strengths to preserve our quality of life, and change the direction of town goals and policies. I have a degree in public policy and administration and have worked in or with local, county, state, and several agencies in the federal government.
I have lived in Parker since 1972 and immediately became involved in local issues. Parker City Land Company declared bankruptcy, leaving 10 families in Rowley Downs without water, roads and intermittent power.
Following that, I became involved with local park issues and worked with Douglas County to build the first swimming pool and tennis court in Parker at O'Brien Park. I continued with my work with the Douglas County Parks and Open Space Commission and the beginning of a regional park system.
In 1981, with the incorporation of Parker; my family was heavily involved with the initial development of the town, there were only 110 registered voters.
In 1991, I started the Parks and Open Space Commission with a group of concerned citizens and succeeded in starting the Cherry Creek Trail, establishing additional parks, the recreation center, implementing planning policy to ensure that new developments provided their share of impact fees and pocket parks, and passing a funding mechanism to fund future parks and recreation which is still providing these resources in Parker.
During this time, I started volunteer service with Parker Fire in 1975 and became a volunteer firefighter in 1981 and continue to work with local, state, and federal entities to enhance the safety of our community. I retired after 42 years of service.
My four children went to local schools and graduated from Ponderosa High School and three of my grandchildren graduated from Legend High School.
Why are you running for council?
My education, experience in government, and my love of Parker provide me with extensive background and skills to serve the citizens and businesses of Parker.
What do you see as the biggest issue facing Parker right now and how will you address it?
The extensive amount of growth in Parker will continue to create strain on local resources including transportation, schools, parks, trails and recreational facilities. The major transportation arterials are frequently overloaded and while Parker is trying to create new routes, the options to accomplish that are limited. The growth of government in Parker will continue and this will put additional tax burdens on the citizens, measures to reduce this growth need to be evaluated. Proposed development on Mainstreet brings positive and negatives concerns the vacant lots can support new small commercial ventures; however, increasing the multifamily units on Mainstreet will increase the congestion on Mainstreet. Additionally, 60-foot buildings will impact the PACE Center which may be hidden and multi-family development on Pine Curve will only increase the burden on our major roads.
Town staff reports that housing affordability remains a problem locally. How can the town council address this?
The Douglas County Housing Partnership, which includes Parker, and other resources have been supporting this concern throughout Douglas County. The best way to handle this concern is for Parker to attract commericial and light industrial opportunities that support higher wages. Parker does not have an inventory of old residential units like Denver and Aurora which offer lower rents; yet we have an abundance of low-paying jobs.
What are some of the initiatives you would like to see put in place by the town council?
Two new projects need citizen assistance: One, develop a regional Olympic pool and ice rink involving the county and all of the towns in the county, and the school district. Our students have been asking for these facilities for 50 years, it is time to respond to their needs. Currently, our students have to use the few local pools that are available and have to practice at unreasonable hours as there pools also have to offer public use hours. Many students are driving daily to Denver or Aurora for practice times. Two, develop a public-private partnership for a Parker Cemetery. Parker currently has an older cemetery which is adjacent to Parker Road and is run by a not-for-profit group; unfortunately space is limited. Families want their loved ones close to them and many are forced to leave Parker. This effort will need to be evaluated; however, the problem is already here.
What is your philosophy on growth and maintaining town character?
Growth is important; however, density and zoning are key issues in maintaining Parker's character. Unfornuately, the town increased its density to meet the demand of developers years ago. More emphasis needs to be given to the quality of life rather than the continued focus on how much revenue can be derived. Many groups in town conduct family-centered activities and the town provides wonderful recreational resources; but while expensive the town needs to also focus on its history. This effort has been serverely underfunded in the past.
Many businesses in town say they are struggling to recruit employees. What can the town council do to help?
While many of these businesses are paying higher wages, they do not support living in Parker. Council has tried to get the state legislature to end the involvement of RTD in Parker. Why? RTD takes over $13 million annually from the citizens in Parker and does not provide a equitable level of service. A local service such as the type offered in mountain towns could help with better transportation services for our businesses and residents in Parker.
What do you see Parker becoming in the next 20 years?
We will see a projected population over 80,000 at the current rate of growth. I hope we find ways to preserve the quality of life that we all enjoy.