Q&A with Michael Penny, Castle Pines city manager

Getting to know community 'incredibly rewarding,' Penny says

Posted 7/5/18

Castle Pines' new city manager, Michael Penny, took over in May after serving in the position on an interim basis for nearly two months. He previously served as the city manager of Littleton from …

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Q&A with Michael Penny, Castle Pines city manager

Getting to know community 'incredibly rewarding,' Penny says

Posted

Castle Pines' new city manager, Michael Penny, took over in May after serving in the position on an interim basis for nearly two months. He previously served as the city manager of Littleton from 2011-16, and before that, he was the town manager of Frisco for seven years.

Penny comes to the job as more than one development project is set to transform Castle Pines, potentially doubling the present population of about 11,000 in the next two decades.

The Canyons, located east of Interstate 25, will bring more than 2,000 residential units to the community and began construction this summer. It is scheduled to open in 2019. Meanwhile, the Castle Pines Valley project is constructing more than 230 single-family homes and 400 multi-family residences.

Penny recently answered questions for Colorado Community media about his role as city manager and the city's future.

How has your experience been so far as the new city manager? 

Castle Pines has been incredibly welcoming and it's a wonderful community. We have an active and involved city council that is very interested in planning strategically for the city's future and creating the best community that Castle Pines can be. We have a great staff and highly-skilled contractors all focused on providing the highest level of service possible to the community.

What has been the most enjoyable and the most challenging part of learning the new job?

Getting to the know the members of the community and the business owners has been incredibly rewarding. It's always challenging walking into a community early in the construction season with the budget set and trying to improve levels of service and make changes to the existing priorities. We've been very successful to date, due in a great part to a very supportive city council.

In Castle Pines, anticipated growth is a big topic of conversation. How will a population boom, through projects like The Canyons and Castle Pines Valley, impact the city in terms of traffic, the economy and tax base, open space and so on?

The amount of approved residential and commercial development — most of it through annexation agreements — will certainly create change within the community. The vast majority of the new development will be to the east and the south of the existing city. To that extent, aside from adjacent development and significant intersections, such as Castle Pines Parkway and I-25, there will not be a significant shift in the current city environment. The Canyons development will create an entirely new experience and opportunity for the Castle Pines community.

How is the city preparing to respond to that population growth? 

Colorado is a strong private-property rights state and the city's future growth is projected in our comprehensive plan, zoning regulations and annexation agreements. We know that growth is coming and are strategically planning for the future. Addressing impacts to existing residents through good land-use transitions, minimizing traffic impacts, construction impacts, and things like view corridors will be key. Gaining public amenities such as improved trail systems, parks, open space, street improvements and general improvements that enhance the quality and value of Castle Pines will be critical during the staff review process and during negotiations with the developers.

What are the town's infrastructure and transportation plans for the future, particularly with a larger population in mind? Is public transit an option?

Each development project needs to provide traffic studies along with other infrastructure studies. The development is required to provide the necessary infrastructure to address the impacts of the development. I don't see public transit in our near-term future since we are not in the RTD district and there is no funding mechanism to support a regional transit option.

Can Castle Pines residents expect more schools in the future, and if so what kind? 

The developers, City of Castle Pines, and the Douglas County School District are working collaboratively to determine what type of school(s) are needed and where. I expect that we'll see a middle/high school facility located on the east side of the highway at some time in the future. It appears from current demographics that we have adequate elementary school locations within Castle Pines. DCSD does a great job of looking at future developments and different growth patterns to make informed decisions around future school design and locations.

Should, or is, the city recruiting primary employers, so residents can live and work locally?

Gaining primary employment opportunities is a key goal for the city as development continues to occur. Creating a business environment that matches the values and culture of our community is critical for the long-term sustainability of the business community within Castle Pines. The current commercial area is not designed to provide these primary jobs, but working with the development on the east side of the highway, we hope to see significant primary job opportunities available in the future.

How would you say your past experience prepares you to tackle these and other issues facing the city?

My experience in understanding community values and culture and working with land owners and developers to negotiate the best balance between development and community needs. My ability to incorporate that vision and value into the development will help our community grow in a way that we retain what we love about Castle Pines while acknowledging there is still a lot of private property that will be developed.

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