Rick Pilgrim is the mayor of a town he didn’t know was a town when he was growing up in Littleton: Bow Mar.
To be clear, he’s the mayor of the Town of Bow Mar – not Bow Mar South or Bow Mar Knolls, which are in Littleton proper, nor Bow Mar Heights, which is in Jefferson County. And then there’s Mary’s Meadow, which the town owns but is actually in the city and county of Denver.
Of course, he enjoys them all.
“It’s such a great place for a family to grow up and to be a kid and feel safe,” he said, having raised his three daughters there himself. Two of them went to Littleton High School — where he graduated from in 1973 — and the other went to Heritage.
Located northwest of Littleton, Bow Mar is a unique little town of about 600 acres, 293 homes, 850 people and a budget of just a half-million dollars. It literally has no businesses, so it depends on property tax to function, yet it owns its own lake and has its own yacht club.
“We’re a city that needs to be responsible to our voters,” he said, and they want low taxes and limited government. “We depend on volunteers to help us do stuff.”
Along with a very active homeowners’ association and a foundation, and a partnership with Columbine Valley that allows them to share a town hall and eight-person police department, things seem to run smoothly in the little town. Skimming council-meeting minutes makes it seem like dog poop and chickens are the most pressing matters.
Pilgrim, a transportation engineer, thinks it’s actually the roads. There’s no real drainage, just ditches that allow water to seep under the pavement.
“We’ve asked the voters two times, and they’ve turned it down two times,” he said. “But each of those times we’d have gone into debt.”
Change does happen slowly sometimes in a town so small. Bow Mar didn’t even have paved roads until the early 1970s, and didn’t bury its utilities until the late 1960s. Both were controversial.
“Those had costs for everybody,” he said.
There probably wouldn’t even be a town of Bow Mar without your friendly neighborhood grocery store. Lloyd King, who founded King Soopers in 1948, started buying up small farms in the neighborhood just east of what is now Grant Ranch after business started booming. But in the 1950s, Denver started annexing everything it could get its hands on. Bow Mar incorporated in 1958 to protect itself, 16 years before the Poundstone Amendment required a vote of the residents to be annexed.
“That’s why they became their own town, so they were in charge of themselves,” said Pilgrim.
That’s how Mary’s Meadow ended up in Denver, and Pilgrim said that’s another issue that needs handled. Should there ever be an emergency, Denver crews would have to respond, and the closest fire department is near Fort Logan.
“We own it, but we can’t manage it,” he said. “Thank heavens we’ve never had a grass fire.”