In terms of growth and development, Castle Pines is in the toddler stages, working to move from its bedroom community status to being a stand-alone city thriving in Douglas County.
Taking the lead to push Castle Pines into adulthood is newly elected Mayor Tracy Engerman. In a close election in November, Engerman edged out incumbent Tera Radloff and challenger David McEntire, who is currently the president of the Castle Pines North Metro District.
Now, Engerman agrees there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of important decisions are pending for the growing community. In a sit-down interview with Colorado Community Media, Engerman said she understands the challenges that lie ahead for the city, while noting that is why she decided to run for mayor.
“I would not say there is anything wrong with how the city was being managed (by Radloff),” she said. “I thought we could just be more effective.”
Prior to running for mayor, Engerman had comfortable support serving as a District 1 councilmember — a place she agrees she could have stayed.
“I originally ran for council in the first place because no one was running,” Engerman said. “I didn’t want someone living outside of our district making decisions for us.”
Newest city in the state
Castle Pines officially became an incorporated city about 13 years ago, Engerman said, making it the youngest in the state. Before that, Engerman said, it was a bedroom community watching Castle Rock, Parker and Highlands Ranch grow around it.
Now, Engerman said, the goal is for Castle Pines to be a respected player in Douglas County, with a council focused on bringing in more commercial development, solving ongoing water problems and finally getting a zip code that will ensure sales tax dollars go to the right place.
While incorporated, boundaries and leadership of Castle Pines are not so simple. Besides the City of Castle Pines, the area is made up of four separate metro districts, including the North Metro District, which leads citizens on the west side of Interstate 25.
Having to work with four metro districts, the city is continually answering questions about stormwater issues, parks and recreation, wastewater and roads, Engerman said.
“We (the incorporated city) are only one piece of the puzzle,” Engerman said. “I would love to get us all under one umbrella and give residents some clarity. Now, they are never sure who to call for what services.”
Water and wastewater
Engerman explained that the water situation in Castle Pines is about as clear as mud, with citizens being split between two entities. On the east side of I-25, residents receive water and wastewater services from the Parker Water District.
On the west side, water and wastewater services are controlled by the North Metro District, which draws from wells fed by the Denver aquifer. Serving 12,000 residents, the metro district has been working to find a solution to improve water services.
After a special election last year, voters approved a plan to be included in the Parker Water District, which would have added about 3,500 customer accounts to the water district.
However, after the metro district could not meet all the requirements of the inclusion plan, it was dissolved by a vote of the Parker Water District Board of Directors in February. The inclusion was supposed to be done by Jan. 3 of this year.
Engerman said the incorporated part of Castle Pines has no jurisdiction in what is happening with the metro district, noting that it is tough to stand on the sidelines of such an important issue.
“We want to help where we can, but we have to stay in our lane,” she said. “If this inclusion can happen, we would not be pulling as much water from wells, which would go a long way towards helping the aquifer in the entire region.”
Wanting to help the metro district find the solution, Engerman along with other Castle Pines councilmembers and City Manager Michael Penny attended a work session with the Douglas County commissioners on Feb. 28.
During the work session, Engerman brought up the possibility of the county giving up to $6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help resolve the outstanding issues to bring the inclusion plan with Parker Water back on track.
Engerman said the city is also engaging with the metro district to possibly develop as intergovernmental agreement. In the end, Engerman said, the ball is in the metro district’s court.
In 2020 and 2021, the Castle Pines council put an emphasis on rebuilding and reconstructing aging roadways. With the county’s $2 million assistance, the city developed a five-year plan and started work in 2021 that is extending in 2022.
In June, the city started a more than $3 million reconstruction project of Castle Pines Parkway between Yorkshire Drive and Monarch Boulevard.
Moving forward, Engerman said councilmembers will continue to assess aging roads and build feasible plans to keep moving in the right direction.
Engerman said something Castle Pines has going for it is commercial availability. Commercial prospects in Castle Pines are larger than Park Meadows in Lone Tree, Engerman said.
Growing existing businesses already in Castle Pines and working to recruit new development is a council goal in 2022 and beyond, Engerman said.
To help existing businesses, Engerman said the town has partnered with the Castle Pines Chamber of Commerce, which became a true asset during the COVID-19 pandemic.