VERDE VILLAGE -- Many old-timers will remembers the struggles, the success, the barbecues and dances from the early days of Verde Village.
There are not the struggles today, even though just last year there was concern that the association may be at the end of its life. But now, the youthful energy of the pioneers may have returned, but with a different agenda.
Steve Schmidt remembers some of the early days, "We just got here in 1983 and people were very sincere and activity around the association was well attended. But, it flat wore them out or aged them out and now they are 80 something." The organization was established in 1972.
Times change. A four-lane highway now passes through the residential community that was born during a land fraud scheme. Over 4,000 homes stand in eight units, units that may be difficult to define for an outsider. A lot of the homes have new owners. Many early residents have passed on.
Ken Whiteside and with Dawn Martinson are caretakers for the Verde Village Property Owners Association. Whiteside says, "There is new blood and vitality now in the Villages. There have already been several Saturday night dances, swap meets, sock hops with '50s and '60s music and the pool is open to the public."
That pool is pretty active too.
Maybe it's a matter that the families are younger in the community today with more kids around and friendly neighbors. Rather than building a new community in the dirt, people now are settling a community a second time and want to make it a comfortable home.
Schmidt says, "Many people don't realize that the Verde Village Association even exists, that there is a clubhouse and a swimming pool to use and that anyone can use the pool. You don't have to be a member of the association."
But, you get a discount with membership. And you get a discount to rent the hall if you are a member. There are a lot of perks to membership in the association.
Dawn Martinson says, "We have dances once a month. We are trying to get more people down here".
Down here means the gathering place, the VVPOA clubhouse on Broken Saddle Drive, just a block from the Verde River.
There are A-frame sign boards near the entrances to the community with times, dates a phone numbers and a big note that the pool is now open, a refreshing thought during the recent heat wave.
Pioneers who worked to establish the early community worked to make sure that there was a place to have fun. Many had retired to Verde Villages, not knowing the story behind the Ned Warren land fraud of Queen Creek Land and Cattle. They brought their skills to bear, published a newspaper and raised the clubhouse by their own sweat. Women held bake sales to outfit the kitchen and today, the clubhouse has a pool and playground equipment and can hold a crowd of 160.
Former Board President Mal Otterson, who is still active in the association, said, "I believe that neighborhoods are better when people are concerned for each other's welfare. This concern would easily translate into more harmony, fewer complaints and more good stuff between people."
New President Sheree Earl is continuing that ethic as well as bringing new ideas and energy to her own volunteerism.
The association is planning to host regional area mixers and ice cream socials. Fish fries and
BBQ nights are already under way.
One of the young people who stepped into a leadership position is Phillip Rodriguez, a certified life guard who heads the junior lifeguard program, helps with swim lessons and heads the Teen Committee. He's hoping to organize a teen benefit dance.
The Association owns nearly 47 acres of land. The property includes land surrounding the clubhouse, a three miles stretch of land along the Verde River, the popular duck pond along Del Rio and parcels of land around the Units that may become future parks sites. One such site at Elm Street and Viejo Drive was granted to the city of Cottonwood with the proviso that it be developed. The city recently placed a shade ramada on the property.
The mission statement for the Verde Village Property Owners Association may come as a surprise. It is not your typical HOA legalese.
The bylaws of the association place the first and highest function of the association "to promote harmony."
The top function of the association is "to inform members" about issues "affecting their common interest." Finally comes the expected, "enforce the restrictive covenants of Verde Villages" and to "manage and maintain the properties" of the association.
Such associations need volunteers to make then run. VVPOA has a good head start, but can always use more support.
For more information on how to get involved or help out, call 646-6104 or President Sheree earl at 634-1380, care takers Ken and Dawn at 646-5598 or Past President Mal Otterson at 634-9785.