Parker survey shows residents worry about growth

Participants favored safety, recreation, ‘sense of community’

Elliott Wenzler
ewenzler@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/19/21

While most Parker residents’ favorite thing about living in the town is still the sense of community, the “hometown feel” in the area has been steadily decreasing for years, according to a …

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Parker survey shows residents worry about growth

Participants favored safety, recreation, ‘sense of community’

Posted

While most Parker residents’ favorite thing about living in the town is still the sense of community, the “hometown feel” in the area has been steadily decreasing for years, according to a recently administered poll from the town.

The scientifically conducted survey, completed by the National Research Center, asked residents about their feelings on various aspects of the town including growth, the local government, police and parks.

“Since 2007, we’ve seen a 23 percentage point decline in the proportion of people selecting ‘sense of community or hometown feel’ as the thing they like most about Parker,” said Laurie Urban, with NRC, in a presentation to the town council.

However the “sense of community” is the top marked response when asked what residents like most about living in Parker -- followed by location and safety. 

The survey also showed that residents’ feelings about recreation facilities and the town staff are generally high but some of the town council’s performance measures are decreasing.

The survey, which was conducted over the summer, recurs every three years. It was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will happen again in 2024. The survey, which cost $29,800, was the 10th one done by the town.

The results were presented to the town council during an Oct. 11 work session and the full results are posted online at www.parkeronline.org/80.

Local government and community

The survey showed that the town’s management of population and development growth remains an important factor for many in the community, Urban said. 

“Managing and controlling growth has definitely been a priority for many years here in Parker and is increasing across the Front Range,” she said.

About three-quarters of respondents said both population growth and new housing construction are too fast. About 80% said they felt that preserving open space should be a high priority for the town in the next five years, according to the results.

“Evaluations of government performance related to growth were among the lowest out of 16 aspects of government performance that we evaluated on the survey,” Urban said.

While results showed that residents appreciate the communications from the town, they also reported less trust in the local government. 

The number of respondents that have said the Parker government is “ethical and honest” has decreased from 77% in 2015 to 56% this year.

Other measures of town satisfaction that have decreased by 10 percentage points or more since 2015 include “the job Parker does at running local government for the benefit of all people,” “effectively planning for the future” and “management of growth and development.”

During that same period, performance around emergency preparedness improved by about 12 percentage points.

Mayor Jeff Toborg said that the decline in ratings related to the town government are “a little concerning” to him.

“That seems to be going down year over year over year,” he said in an interview.

Toborg said the residents’ concerns about growth also stood out to him, especially because the town is set to build hundreds of additional homes in the next 10 years.

“What people need to understand is that in those planned developments, we have set aside open space, we have set aside parks, we have set aside school space,” he said. “We ask developers to give up a whole lot of their land for that.”

Toborg added that while the town is doing its best to protect open space and parks, much of that is private land, he said, “and private landowners have rights.”

Residents gave soaring reviews to the town staff regarding their responsiveness, overall impression and the ability to keep citizens informed about community issues. 

Respondents also gave high marks to the local police department and the sense of feeling safe in the community, with about 80% of participants saying they approve of the overall performance of the police department.

However, one rating of “crime prevention efforts” showed a 15-point dip since 2017.

The perception of parks and recreation along with cultural facilities are two areas that have improved greatly since the poll began around 2000. The survey showed that more than 90% of respondents rated recreation facilities and programs as excellent or good.

The top three things that residents said would improve quality of life in the town were managing growth, improving infrastructure and adding more restaurants or grocery stores. 

Parker’s staff is in the process of finalizing a “survey results outreach plan,” said spokesperson Elise Penington. They plan to release a video with an overview of the results regarding areas where the town performed well and “where improvements can be made,” she said.

The town will also provide some new educational materials around recurring themes like open space and development, she said. 

“Our town council and staff will also be reviewing areas that may need to be addressed and determining how to best move forward,” she said. 

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