On Day One of Elaine Mariner's job as Parker's cultural director in 2016, then-town administrator Randy Young brought her to the locked front door of the Schoolhouse on Mainstreet. Mariner's job: …
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On Day One of Elaine Mariner's job as Parker's cultural director in 2016, then-town administrator Randy Young brought her to the locked front door of the Schoolhouse on Mainstreet.
Mariner's job: Make the Schoolhouse a center for community gatherings once again.
In February of 2018, Mariner accomplished that. With the help of the community and town staff, the Schoolhouse was renovated to be a community gathering place and event center while preserving a piece of Parker's history. Now that Mariner “opened the door,” the next step is inviting people in.
“I think we need to take some time to enjoy it and activate it and see what it wants to be,” Mariner said. “I'm excited to watch how the process develops and how we can help it become more activated. I'm excited to see the community's ideas.”
The Schoolhouse renovation project launched its fourth and final phase April 1 when construction on the Schoolhouse plaza and parking lot began. The plaza, Mariner said, will be a place for public and private events — from wedding receptions to the famers market to a concession area before or after PACE Center shows. The parking lot will be updated with better lighting and other required drainage and safety measures.
“It will add certainly another outdoor gathering space in the heart of downtown,” Mariner said.
The project will be completed in two phases and is scheduled to finish construction by the end of October. The project marks the end of a series of renovations done to improve the Schoolhouse, which officially reopened to the public in 2018.
According to the town's website, parkeronline.org, the project will include safety and accessibility enhancements during the reconstruction of the parking lot behind the buildings. The plaza and parking lot will include a lighted special event space off Mainstreet for public and private events, a vehicle drop-off area, better signage, improved lighting and sidewalks, according to the town.
Half of the parking lot will remain open during the entire construction process.
The first phase of construction, on the south side, is scheduled to be completed mid-June. Phase Two will construct the north side. Street parking restrictions along the south side of the Schoolhouse parking lot will be relaxed during the time of construction, according to the town.
For Mariner, the last few months of the project are the home stretch of a goal she's had for almost three years.
“It gives me incredible joy to see this project really come to fruition from that day one,” Mariner said. “I also have a lot of incredible respect for the town of Parker that they have invested to this extent in preserving this jewel of downtown.”
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