Tuesday, September 20, 2022

September 8th Meeting Highlights

President’s Report  The president began her report by noting that P&Z Committee Chair Mary Morris was stepping away from that position due to health issues and a search was underway for a new chair.  The president said during the interim P&Z Committee member David Gill and she were covering any issues brought to the attention of the Committee. 

The president then continued her report regarding a flooding issue adjacent to the Las Piedras development. Las Piedras’ board had notified Big Park Council’s Executive Board of damages sustained as a result of recurring flooding during the past two monsoon seasons.  An APS powerline pole and several sewer manholes were compromised. Further damage to either of these infrastructures could result, respectively, in a loss of power to the VOC or, with regard to the manholes, damage resulting from boulders during runoff could result in closure of the downstream sewer treatment plant.  The president indicated that Yavapai County Supervisor Donna Michaels was contacted and had organized a September 20th meeting of relevant county and local officials at the site to discuss remedial action.  The president noted that this was not a problem limited to a single homeowners’ association but had the potential to affect the entire VOC community. 

Treasurer’s Report  Patty Reski noted that a $2,500 reserve was removed at the bottom of the budget sheet due to a change in Directors & Officers insurance policies.  The $2,500 was actually a reserve in the event of any deductibles for claims against the D&O policy, and because the new policy had a zero deductible, that line item was no longer needed.  She added that the recently appointed Budget Committee was scheduled to meet within a few weeks.

Unfinished Business   

Collective Special Use Permit.  The president provided an update on the Special Use Permit for the Collective Sedona.  Due to timing issues with submitting a recommendation to the County, a vote to approve the P&Z committee’s recommendation could not wait until the September Council meeting, thus an electronic vote was conducted.  Results indicated a unanimous vote with 20 of 24 eligible voters supporting a County permit, with one abstention.  Three members did not cast votes.

Bylaw Revision  The Council was asked to vote on a minor change to Article 1, Section 3 of the Bylaws by adding “Big Park Council” as an optional descriptor for Big Park Regional Coordinating Council, Inc., in addition to the existing descriptors of “BPRCC” and “Corporation” was approved in a unanimous vote.

Big Park Council Logo  The Council was then asked to consider approval of the logo featuring a sketch of Bell Rock for use on Council stationery, for name tags, and other purposes.  The logo included the title “Big Park Council” as the other official organizational name was lengthy.  This abbreviated name necessitated the related addition of that name to the Bylaws.  A motion approving the logo was approved in a unanimous vote.

Resumption of In-Person Council Meetings  The treasurer led a discussion of the Council’s ongoing review of resuming in-person meetings. She reported that the Executive Board was in favor of returning to in-person meetings as soon as possible.  She noted that the Bylaws actually require meetings to be in-person unless “impracticable,” a term more restrictive than “impractical.”  In other words, she said, the Council was required to return to in-person meetings after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed, and the Council was able to locate a public meeting space.

After discussion, it was determined that the Council would proceed with in-person meetings once the treasurer was able to confirm meeting space was available in the Village library at regular day/time that is acceptable to the Council.  Most Council representatives supported continuation of a morning, as opposed to afternoon, meeting. It was agreed to continue with Zoom meetings until the timing issue was resolved.  The treasurer said she would be back in touch with the library executive responsible for meeting space.

New Business   

Northern AZ Healthcare Services Survey  President Camille Cox reported preliminary results of the survey that the Council produced in collaboration with Supervisor Donna Michaels.  A full report will be published in coming days and distributed community-wide.

Supervisor Michaels provided a brief report to the Council (see slide), summarizing discussions she is having with NAH in an effort to address the kinds of concerns expressed by Verde Valley communities, including the VOC.

Committee Reports

Planning & Zoning  Committee member Dave Norton reported successful resolution to the siting of a new AT&T 5G tower on an elevation opposite The Collective on Highway 179.  The new tower would be a 35-foot high “monopine,” or pine tree-like tower with five antennas, and less obtrusive than a previous proposal.  Steve Olson of Bechtel Engineering is managing the project on behalf of AT&T.  He said his firm was preparing to go through the building permit process with the County and hopes to begin construction of the tower near the end of the first quarter or early second quarter of 2023.  On behalf of the committee, Dave thanked Mr. Olson and his company for their efforts to listen to and understand the community’s concerns and collaborate on a solution that reduced the visibility of the tower installation from the highway and from homes in the Las Piedras development.

APS Powerline  Duane Thompson, chair of the Council’s APS Powerline Subcommittee, reported on an Aug. 30th meeting hosted by the U.S. Forest Service that provided a preliminary look at the route of APS’s proposed powerline between McGuireville and Oak Creek substations.  He noted that approximately 17 persons attended the Zoom call, including the acting Coconino National Forest Supervisor Michelle Paduani and Red Rock District Ranger Amy Tinderholt.  Other participants included staff of several local congressional offices, APS engineers, and representatives from the Big Park Council and Keep Sedona Beautiful.

Duane described the proposed mitigation – by burying roughly half the 69 Kv powerline underground – as a “half-loaf.”  He noted that while much of the line would be buried along scenic stretches of Beaverhead Flat Road, only a small segment crossing Highway 179 in the Village was proposed for burial.

After a brief discussion, he indicated that the Council would likely be asked to vote on whether it was satisfied with the USFS’ final decision, or whether it should appeal the decision to the USFS regional forester in Albuquerque.

Art in the Roundabouts  Committee Co-Chair Rolf Funk reported that planning was proceeding with a launch event for the project, scheduled Oct. 4 from 4:30-6 p.m. in the VOCA ballroom.  All reps, alternate reps and executive board members have been invited and encouraged to attend.  He said the organization’s Mission Statement has been approved, which “is to display the story of our community with inspiring art.”

Community Plan Update  The president reported on a meeting at the Village library on Sept. 1st organized by the committee.  Yavapai County Supervisor Donna Michaels, Administrator Phil Bourdon and Director of Development Services Jeremy Dye provided information and answered questions on the recently enacted state law SB 1168 allowing municipalities and counties to regulate short-term rentals consistent with statutory guidelines.

In addition, county officials reported on possible renewed efforts by Arizona counties to lobby for legislation allowing larger counties to impose a transient lodging tax, i.e., bed tax, to be collected for certain “economic” purposes.  The president noted that this information will be incorporated into the draft 2022 Community Plan for the VOC.

Nominating Committee  Committee member Carolyn Fisher reported that the committee was still seeking candidates for president and vice president, and asked support from Council representatives in this effort.  She mentioned that candidates should be familiar with the Council, ideally with a couple years of experience.

Dark-Sky Committee  Committee Chair Curt Schneider reported on various activities of the committee.  A Dark-Sky event on Aug. 25 at the Beaver Creek school had disappointing attendance, but with monsoon season over, other events are planned, including a September 30th Star Party at the Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center, beginning at dusk.  In addition, the committee is collaborating the City of Cottonwood to host other events in the future.

Reminders:  See the Big Park Council website calendar for a full calendar listing. 

Next EB Meeting: Tuesday, October 4th, 3:00pm location TBD

Next Regular Meeting: Thursday, October 13th

August 11th Big Park Council Meeting Highlights

 Public Agency Speaker: Donna Michaels, Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor

Supervisor Michaels explained her position and the County’s progress with respect to a number of issues facing the Village.  She began with transportation projects by noting the new quieter road surface installed on Verde Valley School Road and the work underway expanding the turn lane onto Beaverhead Flat Road from SR179.  She then noted that, in light of the increasing frequency of severe weather events, mitigation work is underway with respect to flood control. 

Through the efforts of Supervisor Michaels and her team, recycling has returned to Cornville, provided by Squeaky Clean, a family-owned operation based in the Village. The location is 9420 E. Cornville Road, right next to Marathon gas station.  VOC residents are encouraged to try it out.  The setup is not the same as the former Clark’s station. There will be no glass, reducing the amount of noise and messiness.  The County is looking for a location in the VOC and suggestions are being sought.  Contact Director of Community Outreach Suzie Fairchild (Susan.Fairchild@yavapaiaz.gov) with location suggestions.  

Supervisor Michaels then announced that a $9.7 million state allocation was awarded for a meat processing facility to support local agriculture.  In addition, Yavapai College has begun to offer coursework on meat processing skills necessary.  

Moving on to protection of public lands, the Board of Supervisors are working on a regulation to curtail OHV use, which will be considered at this upcoming legislative session. With respect to the water crisis facing rural Arizona, she supports the creation of a Regional Management Area to regulate water use in Yavapai County.  

Supervisor Michaels' final remarks concerned the increasing challenges in healthcare delivery in the Verde Valley. Emergency care, telemedicine and availability of specialist are all decreasing in the face of increased demand.  She has written an op-ed detailing the crisis and outlining measures she recommends to improve the situation.  Click HERE to download a copy of the article.  Supervisor Michaels also asked to partner with the BPRCC on a survey to better understand our resident’s concerns and needs for healthcare service delivery.

P&Z Committee Report  Committee member David Gill provided a summary report on the Special Use Permit application from the Collective. The report included a history of the expired Use Permit (2009-2019), noting that the pre-application citizen participation requirements had been met. A citizen participation plan was filed on 1/31/22, and on 4/8/22 a mailing went out to 304 property owners within 1000-ft of the Collective, as well as to other interested parties including the BPRCC.  This was followed by a 4/20 public meeting held at the Collective with13 persons physically present and an additional seven present via ZOOM.  Many positive comments were made at the meeting. Seven letters of strong support were received and two with concerns.  The applicant acknowledged the two concerns, and included accommodations in the Use Permit application that was filed with the County.  A presentation was made to the BPRCC P&Z Committee by the attorney representing the Collective on 6/17. 

Discussion:  A question was raised as to whether the terms of the Use Permit application submitted to the County was the same as was presented to the P&Z Committee of BPRCC on 6/17.  President Camille Cox confirmed that the information was identical, and that the committee's recommendation was based on the actual Use Permit application as filed.  Other comments were supportive of the application, citing the benefits of community gatherings, music performances and other events which have been greatly missed these past few years.  Appreciation was expressed that the Applicant incorporated changes to satisfy public concerns.

The unfortunate close timing of the County’s notification did not allow for sufficient notice to the Council member representatives for a vote at today’s meeting.  As the comment deadline is 8/31, it’s not possible to postpone a vote until the September meeting. In light of the high importance of this Use Permit to the community, the following approach was recommended: The committee create a statement with their recommended comments; that statement and supporting information be sent by email to the Representatives, along with a summary of today's discussion; 7-10 days be allowed for Representatives to review and discuss with their Member Organizations; an electronic vote of the Representatives be conducted (allowable per bylaws) to affirm the Council’s recommendation which would then be submitted to the County by 8/31.

Presidents Report  Camille Cox noted that she learned at the August 10th Community Pulse event that the USFS nearing completion of scoping for the Turkey Creek trail system, and expects to release the plan in Sept/Oct. The public has 30 days to comment from the date of release.

Camille then spoke about the far-reaching value the BPRCC delivers to the community, referencing the meeting agenda: open communication and collaboration with County Supervisor Donna Michaels, a report on ways Yavapai County can address the pending water crisis, a transparent review of a new Special Use Permit, a new initiative to upgrade our corporate identity, as well as others.  She complimented the strong 2022 executive leadership team, explaining that a shift to a teamwork approach allows each officer to contribute the strengths they bring, and enjoy support from the others.  She announced that she will not be a candidate for president in 2023, however as immediate past president she will continue to serve as a member of the Executive Board. 

She emphasized that the important work of the council is dependent on volunteer leadership and requested that everyone keep that “top of mind" in the forthcoming call for nominating committee members and 2023 officers.

Secretary’s Report Minutes from June 9th meeting were approved as written, unanimously.  Mary Pope then noted that sadly, with the closure of the Sedona Village Learning Center in August of 2022, they have resigned their membership in the BPRCC.  On a happier note, Mary welcomed Suzy Lambert as the new Representative for the Sundance HOA and thanked Patrick Murphy for his years of service.

Treasurer’s Report  Patty Reski noted that expenses were normal, and the Treasurer’s Reports for June and July were provided to Representatives in advance of the meeting.  Finances are in good shape, with reserves up from 2021. Economy measures taken by the Executive Board include a reduction in the size of the PO Box (Savings $65 annually) and an extensive review of our insurance policies, which are 35% of the BPRCC total budget.  Vice President Duane Thompson has undertaken this review and it looks as though savings can be achieved without a reduction in coverage.  Patty then called for volunteers to work on the 2023 Budget Committee and Nancy Maple, Bob Marriott and Dave Norton stepped up.

Unfinished Business  Don Groves reported on behalf of the Strategic Plan & Leadership Development Committee noting that their first deliverable was to complete guidelines for the Nominating Committee.  The proposed policy was provided to Representatives prior to the meeting.  It was noted that a version of these guidelines was used by the 2022 Nominating Committee and their recommendations included in the final version.  The document was approved as written with technical formatting issues to be resolved for the final copy.  

New Business

Nominating Committee With praise for the Strategic Plan & Leadership Development’s efforts, Camille opened the floor for Nominating Committee appointments by the Council.  Paul Sullivan, who has served twice, explained the general committee process of meetings and phone calls between now and October, when the proposed slate of 2023 officers is presented to the Council for election in November. Carolyn Fisher, Dave Norton and Ty Dejong volunteered to serve and were unanimously appointed by the Council.

Corporate Identity  Mary Pope reported on the Executive Board’s proposal of a way to improve public recognition of the Council, noting that the background and professional experience of current board members with strengthening corporate identities, provides a unique opportunity to make improvements on this long-term issue. Currently the typewritten format of our corporate name is not visually memorable.  She then focused on the organization’s identity within the context of local history and topography featuring Bell Rock as an anchoring visual for the Big Park/VOC community itself.  An original illustration of Bell Rock created by Duane Thompson will serve as the basis for a new logo.  Mary then addressed the name of the organization, noting that there are many variables of the corporate name in use.  The EB recommends that BIG PARK COUNCIL be used, reserving the corporate name, Big Park Regional Coordinating Council, Inc., for official documents.  She then presented visuals of a proposed logo with the name BIG PARK COUNCIL embracing the illustration of Bell Rock produced in colors affirming our locale.  She noted that the pen and ink illustration and type-fonts used result in an overall effect that is a bit old fashioned and reminiscent of area’s cowboy and homesteader heritage.  A question was raised on use of the logo for name tags and Mary agreed to provide examples of how this would work.  Other questions involved including the date the Council was established and the general shape of the Bell Rock illustration with respect to an actual photograph.   Mary then presented NOTICE of a bylaw revision to permit the name BIG PARK COUNCIL to be officially used and this was approved unanimously for a vote to be taken next month.

Committee Reports

Community Plan: Dr Marianne Langridge, Growing Water Smart Update

As a member of the Big Park/VOC community plan committee, Marianne was invited to join the Yavapai County team that was selected for the Growing Smart program sponsored by the Sonoran Institute. She shared insights from the team’s work, highlighting the difficulties faced by counties who are limited in their ability to manage water resources.  Areas that will be further explored by the team and brought forward to local communities and County agencies include incorporation of water management policy recommendations in the County’s Comprehensive Plan update and following the state legislature’s activity to create an RMA (Regional/Responsible Management Area) which would give the County jurisdiction to govern private water use. 

APS Powerline: Duane Thompson reported that highlights of the United States Forest Service (USFS) Final Environmental Assessment (EA) on the APS proposed powerline will be discussed at a meeting hosted by USFS with interested parties including BPRCC on 8/30.  After the final EA is released, parties that submitted comments will have 45 days to file an appeal with the regional forester in Albuquerque. 

EPPiC (Emergency Preparedness Plan): Gwen Hanna reported that the committee has met with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Sedona Fire District, Yavapai County Office of Emergency Management, United States Forest Service, APS and most recently, the American Red Cross.  She noted that articles on these meetings in the Villager have been well received and encouraged Representatives to read the additional details contained in the EPPiC Minutes.  Gwen reiterated how impressive the communication, consistency and cooperation between the various frontline responders is.  She reminded the Council that all residents need to BE READY and STAY INFORMED, noting that CODE RED provides evacuation GO information, not wildfire updates.  She then noted that the committee will forward a recommendation on emergency preparedness to the Community Plan Committee on a proposed short term rental ordinance, so that EPPiC’s point of view will be included in their recommendations to the County on SB 1168.  There will be no EPPiC meeting in September.

Dark-Sky:  Curt Schneider reported that the committee had a request from the Cornville Community Assoc. to present Lighting Best Practices at their meeting on 10/11. He also noted that he attended the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) ZOOM meeting on the preparation of a Dark-Sky Community annual report.  The committee will be part of a Dark-Sky event 8/25 at the Beaver Creek school, and he’s pleased to report that the community at large is becoming more aware of the importance of Dark-Sky compliance.

Art in the Roundabouts:  Rolf Funk reported that Harvey Bershader and Lenore Hemingway have joined the committee, and new Aesthetics & Selection subcommittee members are Linda Goldenstein (gallery owner), Lisa Snowden (interior designer) and Mary Kershaw (Executive Director and CEO of the Museum of AZ).  The launch event has been rescheduled for Oct 4th at VOCA and all reps and alternates will be receiving an invitation by email.  If you’d like to get involved, you are asked to submit a letter of interest. Download letter here: tinyurl.com/AiRComApply. If you have questions, send email to info@bigparkcouncil.org


Broadband Update:  Tom Binnings reported that the Javelina Room of the Sedona Public Library in the Village is now available for rental.  The normal rate is $50/hour, less for non-profits.  It is a high-tech room with the fastest broadband in the Village.  Currently 150Mbps, soon to be 500Mbps up/download.  The goal is to expand this capability to other locations in the village.  Tom has met with the AZ Commerce Authority and others to bring more competitive broadband into our area.  They’ll try for funding via the Federal $830 million dollar infrastructure plan, and noted that additional private sector funding will also be needed.  Tom is the chair-elect of the Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization (VVREO).  Questions and comments may be sent directly to him at tbinnings@live.com or by calling him direct at Cell: 719-650-5898

Reminders:  See the Big Park Council website calendar for a full calendar listing. 

Next EB Meeting: Tuesday, August 30th, 3:00pm location TBD

Next Regular Meeting: Thursday, September 8th, 9:00am ZOOM

Supervisor Michaels Tackles NAH Quality of Service Issues and Survey Results

The Big Park Council recently collaborated with County Supervisor Donna Michaels to survey the Big Park-VOC community to learn more about our experience with Northern Arizona Healthcare.  The results of the survey revealed that many residents are struggling to get timely access to the care they need.

Supervisor Michaels is working with Northern AZ Healthcare to address these and other concerns to insure that quality healthcare services are secured for our community.  Although she could not attend the September 8th Council meeting, she sent the following message to be publicly shared.


The Supervisor will continue to update us as progress is made.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

How do you feel about the quality of healthcare services in the Verde Valley?

County Supervisor Donna Michaels is highly concerned that our residents have access to the quality of healthcare services we need.  To that end, she asked us to survey the Big Park-VOC community to learn more about our experience with Northern Arizona Healthcare.

You are receiving this survey as a subscriber to the Big Park/VOC Community Plan.  Our Community Vision Statement that was vetted by you earlier this year includes a commitment to good health - your answers will not only help Supervisor Michaels to advocate on our behalf, but also help shape our community plan.

The short survey includes six questions - estimated time to complete is less than 6 minutes.  All responses are strictly confidential.

Thank you for your time, and please pass this request along through your network of friends.
Big Park - Village of Oak Creek Vision Statement

Our community honors and protects its quiet, small-town feel and southwestern heritage.

We value and support low-density, low-rise, walkable development designed to preserve our Red Rock views, open spaces, and cherished International Dark-Sky designation.

Priorities include the health, welfare, and safety of residents, reliable broadband and infrastructure, and access to abundant recreational and cultural opportunities.

As part of our economy, we support sustainable tourism practices that enrich the quality of life for residents and future generations.