Our Village Needs YOU Now #mybackyardVOC

President’s Report
January 2021 
Our Village Needs YOU Now #mybackyardVOC 

The first years after becoming a VOC resident, I couldn’t resist taking photos of… just about everything. Like most who migrate here, the exotic beauty of this area mesmerized me. I bombarded family and friends with streams of images – captioned #mybackyardVOC. Sound familiar? 
Indeed, this charming village and the surrounding landscape do constitute our shared backyard. As we are blessed to partake, we residents are also the incumbent stewards of this place we call HOME. 

Mapping Our Future: Community Plan 2021 Is Underway 

Pursuant to Arizona state law, Yavapai County must periodically update its Comprehensive Plan. In December the County conducted three orientation sessions for communities that intend to author a Community Vision statement for inclusion in the 2021 Yavapai County Comprehensive Plan. In connection therewith, the County seeks specifically a document that expresses the unique character of our community, our values and “sense of place”. 
Members of your BPRCC Community Plan Committee participated in those sessions, and are now embarking on the work of collecting community input to create said Vision Statement and plan. This is a singular opportunity that will not present itself again for another 10 years. If we wish to play a role in mapping the future of our community – the time to participate is NOW. 

Historical Perspective – How Did We Get Here? 

The last Big Park Region Community Vision Statement and plan was adopted in 1998. (link to the plan document: https://tinyurl.com/BPCommunityPlan) To our detriment, since roughly 2008, that document gathered dust on the shelf ~ and the inevitable realities of growth and change had significant impacts – some positive and some heartbreaking. 
Here are some excerpts from that 1998 plan that I find both insightful and provocative: 
• The natural beauty and scenic vistas are a vital asset that benefits residents and visitors alike. This natural environment helps to define the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens and the protection of this natural environment is critical to continuing that lifestyle and the economic well-being of this area. 
 • The purpose of the Big Park community plan is to provide a future view of the area based upon known issues, growth trends and projected development patterns. The intent of the community plan is to offer guidance in the decision-making for future development of the area. The plan is not an ordinance or law, and is, therefore, not retroactive to existing land uses. Its policies and implementation options serve only as guidelines for future development. 
• This revision builds on the concepts of the original small rural town atmosphere of the 1988 plan and retains much of its flavor and goals. 
• The resident population in 1988 was 2,690 and today, in 1998, the population is 4,291 with an estimated increase to 6,317 by the year 2010. (Author’s note: current population ~8,300) The character of this population has changed from mainly retired residents to a more family-oriented community. At the present time, there are approximately 460 students residing in the Big Park community plan area who are enrolled in grades 1-12. 
• The character of commercial development is very different from 1988 to 1998. There has been a 13-fold increase in motel/hotel/timeshare tourist accommodation units during this period.
• Kind of community: 
    Retain a sense of community 
    Retain the small town atmosphere 
    Preserve the natural beauty
o Retain present overall rural density. 
• Community needs: 
    Maintain existing National Forest lands.
o Specify architectural codes that lead to an aesthetically compatible core area. 
    Develop a community center, especially for young people with recreation facilities and fields. 
    Provide sidewalks-paths along SR 179 as a safe route for non-motorized users. 
    Provide public transportation (shuttle) to connect the Big Park area with the greater Sedona Area. 
    Ensure an adequate water supply and appropriate wastewater facilities for present and anticipated future growth. 
    Explore possibilities for additional route into the city of Sedona. 
    Plan for development that is responsible to the community goals, especially in regard to environmental standards, open space and parks. 
It is reaffirming that many of these statements, made 22 years ago, seem to still be true of our community’s values. On the other hand, you can see that the absence of a current and dynamic Community Plan, actively defended by the Village, led to diminished standing with the County and some outcomes that are contrary to the stated values and needs. 
If we want a voice in mapping the future of our shared “backyard”, is essential that we work together to create and adopt a plan that reflects our collective interests and values. 

The Time is Now, and the Mapping Assignment Belongs to Us 

Unlike incorporated areas such as Sedona, Camp Verde or Cottonwood – we do not have funding or staff to undertake the work necessary to complete our Community Vision statement and plan. But we do have time, treasure, and extraordinarily capable and directly relevant talent in this community. Our community needs you—-NOW. 
The Big Park Council has a strong core team in the Community Planning Committee, but we need additional volunteers immediately and in the coming months to a) survey the community; b) compose the plan; and c) vet the final plan such that it can be adopted and incorporated into the 2021 County Comprehensive Plan. 
This task is a unique opportunity for Village residents and business owners to play an important role in the future of our village, and to gain a greater appreciation for how vibrant communities come into being. It’s not by accident! 
A few skill sets sought for the committee: Survey strategy/creation, professional writing/editing, website creation and administration, graphic design/illustration, statistician, community planning, built area development, transportation/traffic expertise, urban planning, administration/records management. Send an email to info@bigparkcouncil.org if you’d like to learn more about how you can participate. 

Highlights from the December Meeting 

Supervisor-elect Donna Michaels Addresses the Council Dr. Michaels emphasized her priority to actively engage with the public, listening to our concerns. She noted that her vision emphasizes diligent stewardship including Community Plans and protection of our Dark Sky and All-American Byway designations. She is a proponent of working towards a more “self-reliant Verde Valley”, creating a robust economy while maintaining our rural lifestyle and open spaces. 

Committees & Committee Members
The president expressed appreciation to the 35+ Council officers, committee chairs and special contributors who worked together to serve the Big Park community in 2020. The recommendations for 2021 committee chairs and members were unanimously approved. 

Ad hoc Bylaws Committee: Nancy Maple and Mary Pope, Co-chairs 
Audit Committee: Dave Norton 
Budget Committee: Mike Ryan 
Community Plan Committee: Camille Cox 
Dark Sky Committee: Mike Ryan 
Planning & Zoning Committee: Mary Morris 
APS Transmission Line Sub-Committee: Duane Thompson 

Treasurer’s Report
Neil Pope presented the report for spending through November 23rd and a revised 2021 budget. He noted that our ZOOM account was paid for privately in 2020 and should become a recognized Council expenditure. To accommodate that expense, line items for donations and miscellaneous were removed. The president emphasized that the expansion of committees has created a level of meeting activity that cannot be managed by a single “scheduler”. It is reasonable to assume that we will need to carry on with electronic meetings well into 2021, and we will be best served to distribute responsibility for scheduling and communication. The budget was passed unanimously. 

Membership Survey Committee Co-Chair Mary Pope presented the results of the survey on Membership Requirements. The responses and commentary changed the way the bylaws will describe qualifications for a Member Organization. The concept of Neighborhood has been evolving and is felt to better describe what the Council is seeking in terms of a residential organization. The change was received favorably by the Council. Mary noted that this is a work-in-progress involving the bylaws and policies, and thanked the Council for their help and guidance. 

Bylaws Review Progress to Date Co-chair Nancy Maple showed a slide illustrating how the Council’s agreed-upon revisions to date more closely align with the Current Bylaws document than with the Proposed Bylaws. It was suggested that updating the Current Bylaws with agreed-upon changes would be a more efficient process versus waiting until all changes are completed and reviewing the entire marked-up document later in the year. A motion was made that the review method be changed: Going forward, as the review of each section is completed, changes will be integrated into the Current Bylaws. Revision/Notice will be executed, with discussion and voting at the subsequent monthly meeting. Motion passed unanimously. 

P&Z Committee Chairman Mary Morris introduced Duane Thompson, chairman of the APS sub-committee. Duane presented the sub-committee’s draft Purpose and Scope to be reviewed by the Council after the P&Z Committee approves at their next meeting. He then provided a progress report. The committee was disappointed that their request to APS to share comparison data on alternatives for the new high-voltage power line (15 miles above ground, underground, battery backup) was not fulfilled. Committee research estimates that burying power lines would cost about $5 million per mile. Duane is now working with the US Forest Service, and the committee is creating a community survey to gather input and raise public awareness of the project. There was discussion regarding the safety and efficiency of battery backup, and it was noted that buried lines require maintenance access roads. Duane noted that APS has three objectives for the new power lines: Reduce power outages; more voltage stability; future needs. APS is not convinced that battery backup, although less costly, address all three. Mary Morris thanked Duane and noted that the December P&Z regular meeting (3rd Friday 10am) would likely be cancelled as there are no applications pending. 

The next meeting of the Council will be January 14th 9:00am via Zoom. Please join us! 

Camille Cox, President