'Participatory democracy' at heart of Big Park Council's success in shaping community's future

Tom Graham, President, Big Park Regional Coordination Council

Tom Graham, President, Big Park Regional Coordination Council

Change is a fact of life: change in our personal lives; change in our work lives; and change in where we live, here in the Big Park/Village part of the Greater Sedona Area.

Some of these changes are very visible, such as the Scenic 179 improvement project - others are not so visible but are just as, and perhaps even more, important to the future of our Community.

These changes will not be shaped by those who sit back and let others do the work for them - decisions are made by those who show up.

The completion of the Scenic 179 improvement project a few years ago enhanced our community's "main street" and was further enhanced by the designation of Hwy 179 as a world-class National Scenic Byway/All-American Road with award-winning international recognition.

Our "main street" was also enhanced with landscaping, sidewalks and other enhancements that are managed by the citizen-run Red Rock Road Enhancement Maintenance District (RRREMD). These are also visible manifestations of the wonderful residential areas that have grown up in our Community, giving our Community an image that is viewed by nearly 4 million visitors annually.

Since we are an unincorporated area with no formal local government, what has made all of this happen? I personally believe this community works as well as it does because of the working relationship developed between our County representatives and the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council. Few, if any, other community governments in Yavapai County have as respected a voice as the Big Park Council.

So what makes the Council work? For those of you who may not know it, the Council is a purely volunteer organization made up of representatives of 28 residential property associations, business associations and educational institutions.

Since its creation 20 years ago, the Council has been the focal point for almost all community efforts, including oversight of new residential and commercial developments and fostering some of the best schools and recreational amenities in the state.

The Council works because of the many years of hard work by its volunteer Council members who have provided us with an example of achievement.

As someone recently said, the Council is a success "…by not pointing fingers or bickering, or refusing to budge, but by compromising enough to find consensus, and listening enough to find solutions."

Personally, I believe the Council's brand of "participatory democracy" is our community's real achievement and most impressive accomplishment. We tend to appreciate the most, those things we do for ourselves - there is no more satisfying feeling.

In the coming months and years the Council will be faced by many more important decisions - decisions effecting community identity, improving residential services, and enhancing our recreational, commercial and cultural amenities. All of these decisions will affect our quality of life and our property values.

As opposed to other forms of governing, our community's form of "participatory democracy" really gives every resident a true voice, but that voice can't be heard if you don't show up.

The council needs to hear from you -- are you going to show up?

The Big Park Regional Coordinating Council meets the second Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Sedona Fire District Village Fire Station, 125 Slide Rock Road.

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