PARKER — One purchase of new equipment, one giant leap of progress for Parker. 
The town of Parker recently made huge strides in flood management by purchasing an excavator to help perform code enforcement abatements and flood control maintenance. 
The excavator, coming in at about $209,000, is unlike any of the equipment Parker currently owns. Mayor Andrew Kelly said the city’s equipment before was used and outdated, not suitable for upcoming projects. 
“Kinda what gave me the thought to do this was watching TV about a month or so ago and Panama City had bought eight or nine pieces of equipment with their ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money,” Kelly said. “I thought, ‘My lord, that’s smart. They can do theirs, sure enough, we can do ours.’” 
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Kelly said he contacted Parker’s public works director, Tony Summerlin, on also using the city’s ARPA funding to purchase new equipment. The city had received a little more than $1 million in its first check from ARPA and desperately needed to put money toward flood management, Kelly said. 
Once the City Council approved what Summerlin recommended, the city bought the excavator needed for upcoming projects. Kelly said it will be used as soon as Jan. 15 to demolish a building across from the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on State 22-A. 
“They can clear up an old house in a day, easy,” Kelly said. “The dumpsters will be delivered. They’ll pick it up and throw it in the dumpster.” 
Kelly said the new equipment will save the city money and time in the long run, especially with its first project. 
“We had a quote to put an 8-inch water line across the sports complex before they start the renovation — $149,000. Just buying the materials and doing it ourselves — $45,000,” Kelly said. “So, we save over a $100,000 on its first job, half the value of what it costs brand new. They tell us it should be able to work every day and last over 20 years.” 
Three years after Hurricane Michael, Parker still has problems with storm damage and debris not being cleaned up. Kelly said this will give them the chance to finally bulldoze and clean up the damage still lingering throughout the town. 
“Another significant thing that we’re going to use it for, we have a lot of storm damage not being cleaned up and a lot of that is abandoned houses and old businesses,” Kelly said. “And we now have a magistrate and we’re using the magistrate courts system to help abate these problems. And you’ll see around the city, different places where the roof has been off for over three years.” 
Kelly said he hopes the progress will make residents happy and will achieve his goal of cleaning up the city. 
“I’d rather have grass growing on a vacant lot than have a derelict house beside a perfectly good house, cause it hurts the property value. And I’m getting a lot of complaints from the people of Parker who are tired of looking at all these half-broken-down homes and half-broken-down businesses,” Kelly said. “We’re going through the legal process and this piece of equipment will enable us to be able to tear these things down and dispose of them without having to hire a contractor to come in and do it.”