By Gail Simpson
|Yavapai County Supervisor, Chip Davis, shares an early map of Big Park with the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council, as he honored the council on the 47th anniversary of our community’s founding on April 17, 1967. On that date, the Yavapai Board of Supervisors formed the Big Park Improvement District, the first Improvement District to be established in Arizona.|
Special to The Villager
It was like a quiz show, as Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis, special guest of the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council, took the microphone and asked the crowd:
"What happened on Feb. 14, 1862?" Silence. His answer, "Jefferson Davis declared Arizona a Confederate Territory."
"What happened a year later on Feb. 14, 1863?" More silence. "Abraham Lincoln declared Arizona a Union Territory."
And, "What happened on Feb.14, 1912?" We all knew that -- Arizona Statehood -- but most of us attending had no idea that Valentines Day had more significance to us Arizonans than hearts and chocolate!
So, what was the point of Chip's interesting history lesson? The evolution of our Arizona/Yavapai County/Big Park/Village of Oak Creek history was the picture he painted. Each of those early events and the extraordinary efforts of so many dedicated citizens since then have brought us to where we are today, he went on. What we do going forward, of course, will not only determine the character and future of our community, but will also become our history.
Chip took time to acknowledge the Council meeting room filled with good citizens, saying, "This is what makes you such an exceptional community! Just look at all of you folks here at 9 on a Thursday morning, caring about what happens and willing to get involved and make a difference!"
We did feel just a little proud...
Three dedicated Village/Big Park residents were then presented plaques, high praise from the supervisor and standing ovations from the community for their outstanding contributions made over many years. Joan McClelland and Joanne Johnson modestly enjoyed the fanfare, while Ruth Kane, unfortunately, had to be away. As Joan and Joanne are featured elsewhere in this Villager, Ruth's contributions are noted here:
Ruth Kane, among many other roles, has served as the Chairman of the Board of the Big Park Domestic Waste Water District for 16 years, and on the Board since its inception.
Also on the Board of the Sedona Muses of the Museum of Northern Arizona, she was President of the group multiple times. She worked extensively with the Coconino National Forest on such issues as Amendment 12 and Red Rock Crossing, and worked for the creation of the Red Rock Enhancement SID.
Your community thanks you, Ruth!
Speaking of getting involved, it was fitting that the Council then heard the final report of the Community Vision Committee following their boisterous Public-Input Meeting held on March 18 at the Hilton. On that evening, great ideas flowed ... and stacks of them were submitted to be read, counted and considered. Residents of every age voiced their hopes and dreams for our evolving Village, and here are just a few of them in no particular order:
Build an urgent care center.
Expand public transit to Sedona, the trailheads and Cottonwood, including handicapped-accessible service.
Develop a safe sidewalk network, especially along Jack's Canyon and the Verde Valley School Road areas to the Weber's Business Center and walkways on SR 179
Support more closely-monitored routes for kids walking and riding bikes to school, and create walk to school efforts.
Install bike racks in front of businesses.
Establish a Village Chamber of Commerce, helping our businesses to promote our one-of-a-kind attributes (Gateway to Red Rock Country, our All-American Road, Forest Service Visitors' Center, golf, hiking and biking in the red rocks, Red Rock Crossing, Bell Rock, etc.).
Create adult education opportunities, perhaps using vacant rental spaces - featuring OLLI classes, etc.
Create a miniature golf course - a huge draw for local families and visitors.
Establish a parks and rec center and a dog park.
Those are some tall, but reasonable orders, as we continue to enrich our community. Arizona is very young, Chip said in conclusion. It's the 48th state. Actually, our own community goes back only 47 years when, in 1967, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors created the Big Park Improvement District, the very first improvement district in Arizona. How many of us were here to remember that? And how many extraordinary residents of this community have built the fine town we have today ... and who will be deciding its future? We all can, of course, so come to the Big Park Council meetings, the second Thursday of each month at the firehouse at 9 a.m. For further information, go to www.bigparkcouncil.org.