Mon, Oct. 14

What a history!

Steve Nelson
VOCA President

Steve Nelson VOCA President

Recently, I read, "Village of Oakcreek History" by Helen Hayden. And, my oh my, does VOCA ever have a history. I'll try to give a summarized version of the history.

The book speaks to the early years when the Big Park area was owned by a true character, Fannie Belle Gulick. She created her wealth through mining, both directly and indirectly. She prospected and filed claims in Nevada as well as running a rooming house with special services (if you know what I mean) for miners in Las Vegas.

She started buying up the various ranches and land parcels in the Big Park area in the late 1930s and by the 1950s had amassed over 1,000 acres in the area. In 1959, she entered into a deal to sell the property for $1 million, but it had to be paid in cash. When she showed up to the attorney's office with her satchel for the cash, the buyer had only $750,000 but promised the balance shortly.

With that, she walked out the door and told them to forget it. She passed away in 1963 at the age of 80 without ever selling the property.

In 1967, the property was sold to a development company (eventually known as Big Park Development Co.) and it was announced that a "master planned 920-acre residential-recreational resort community in the Oakcreek-Redrock Country -- to be known as the Village of Oakcreek" was to be built.

The development would encompass 3,200 sites for year-around, vacation and retirement homes and condominiums. An 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the nation's largest firm of its kind, would also be built.

The first house in VOCA was completed in early 1968. That same year, the grand opening of the golf course, which only had 9 holes at the time, had an $8,000 head-to-head match between two stars from the PGA, Miller Barber and Bob Rosburg.

By November 1969, 700 home sites had been sold. The old Toucan Restaurant that sits in disrepair on Highway 179 was the original clubhouse for the golf course. The second nine holes of the golf course weren't completed until May, 1972 and the clubhouse was later moved to its current location.

By September 1971, there were 62 residents in the Village of Oakcreek, but legal issues were starting to arise with the developer. Village Oakcreek Association (VOCA) was formed and was run strictly by the developer. In response, in 1972 a Lot Owners League (LOL) was formed by the property owners to protect their interests. Lawsuits and legal wrangling seemed the order of the day until October 1974 when property owners finally gained control of VOCA.

The LOL had served its purpose and was eventually disbanded.

In 1975, the ownership of the golf course was secured by VOCA from the developer. Now, let me tell you, the lawsuits continued for the next five years and times were tough throughout this period. However, by 1980, there were 794 residential units in VOCA and its financial conditions had improved. When the property owners took control of VOCA in 1974, it had a bank balance of $721.18 and no assets.

By 1980, it now had an excellent credit rating, ownership of the golf course and positive cash flow. What a difference local control and community pride make. We all owe a debt of gratitude to a group of dedicated people who created a community driven home owners association like VOCA back in the 1970s.

Another 30 years have passed and today, we are one of the largest, if not the largest, HOA in Arizona. We total 25 subdivisions with over 2,400 lots comprised of 18 residential, two commercial, one multi-unit and four condominium subdivisions. We provide recreational facilities that include the golf course, tennis courts and a park.

Recently, VOCA was complimented by two regional law firms as being the most organized HOA in Arizona.

Next month, I will go into greater detail about the services that VOCA provides to its members. Until then, have a great day in the Village.

P.S. Helen Hayden's book is available at the VOCA office for only $3 and I have only done a brief overview it.

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