As the Town of Parker embarks on a process that will update its General Plan with new policies and ideas, Parker Live stopped by the Community Workshop that forms part of the process.
There wasn’t a large number of people in attendance, but those who were there engaged actively and sometimes passionately with the subject of how the one-square-mile town limits should look in the future. Public Works Director Tim Edwards opened the workshop, saying that the Town is in forward motion.
“If you look at a picture that was taken 50 years ago, you can see a drastic change over the last while. So Parker can change, and we want to move the town of Parker forward,” Edwards said.
He then introduced Kevin Kugler of Michael Baker International, the consultants helping the Town develop its community plan over the course of several months this year. Kugler said the process involves data collection, collecting reports and studies, staff meetings, meetings with stakeholders, other governments, utilities, school districts, etc., meetings with the community, mapping, and a zoning ordinance review and analysis.
A look at Parker population statistics shows that the population dropped a little during the recession and rebounded since. Overall, the population of the town of Parker remains very steady. Over 30 percent of La Paz County is seniors, which is more than double the state average, so Kugler said undoubtedly this should be reflected in services and focus.
Over 43 percent of the jobs in Parker are related to education, health care, social assistance and public administration, so the public sector is strongly represented in jobs. The largest type of private sector jobs is in the ‘arts, entertainment, food, recreation’ category, followed by ‘retail trade’, which reflects the Parker area’s tourism industry.
One woman spoke up to say that Parker needs its young people to want to raise their families here, instead of leaving the community after graduating from high school. Another woman said that there aren’t career opportunities that would encourage people to do that.
One man expressed concern that the key decision-makers involved in this process should be residents of the Town itself. “We don’t want 300 residents in the state of California to tell us that the Town of Parker needs to look like this or like this. You want to make sure that the community is who gets to decide,” he said. Kugler responded saying, “We can assure you that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve.”
Another resident spoke up to say that businesses should support each other by buying local where possible, citing being laid off from work because a large local business “outsourced” their supplies to an outside store. “There’s got to be somebody looking at that,” he said.
One woman asked how the plan would compliment or relate to the Colorado River Indian Reservation. Kugler responded that there will be opportunities for collaboration where appropriate. “They’ll be afforded the opportunity to comment on the process and have their input in the process,” he said. “The Town has open channels of communication with the Tribes.” However Kugler acknowledged that the plan is for the town limits, rather than for CRIT.
After a presentation by Kugler, the residents in attendance took part in an interactive process with hands-on list-making and areas of focus.
There will be a community review of the new draft document in July, when residents will be able to add public comment and input to the proposals.