Meet your Big Park Council Representative: Neil Pope
Who do you represent on Big Park Council and what kind of member is it: Residential (RAM), Business (BOA), or Educational Institution (EIM)? Briefly describe its character or anything that makes it unique.
Hello, I represent La Barranca II, a residential community off of Jacks Canyon Road. We have fifty seven single family homes and lots in a gated community. Our CC&R’s ensure that each house is built in a pre-construction area within a defined building envelope on the lot. Outside of this area everything is kept in the natural environment. The development has a 360º view of the beautiful surrounding area.
Current/Past Officers and Committee/Project Chairs, describe your title and responsibilities. What have been your most interesting challenges and successes with the Council?
During the past 12 years I have represented La Barranca II on and off (mainly on). I have served as Council Treasurer and been on the Council’s Planning and Zoning, and Budget Committees. Over the years I have contributed to many discussions. One of the most interesting and informative was a recent one on the school closing. I am always impressed with the intelligence and experience of people in our community.
Do you work full time, part time or retired?
I am retired and have been since 2002. During my retirement I have served on many boards including The Benefactors of Red Rock State Park, Verde Valley Sinfonietta and the Sedona Arts Center, which have kept me busy. I have volunteered for the Sedona Arts Festival, and a number of other organizations including our homeowner’s association on which I served for six years, holding three offices.
How many years have you lived in the Big Park/Village of Oak Creek area and from where did you come? What do you like best and least about living here?
My wife and I have lived in Big Park for 16 years; first in Las Piedras and then in La Barranca II. We came here from Princeton, New Jersey. When we first came here, the Outlet Mall shops were very vibrant, full of various types of stores with top names.
ADOT then decided to improve Route 179 to Sedona which was the beginning of our problems. Most of the shops in the Mall closed down due to lack of business during road construction as visitors just passed through because of road construction backups and locals stayed away from the chaos. The construction resulted in continual stop and go traffic, crawling into Sedona. It took over an hour to get to the Y on the drive to Sedona. Thankfully 179 was finished and travel times improved for a short time. Now we have taken a step backwards with excessive tourism traffic.
What are your favorite pastimes, interests and/or community involvements?
My wife and I came here because of our love of the great outdoors. We enjoy horseback riding and hiking around the community and Sedona; and stargazing in the evenings in our Dark Sky community is a special treat. We enjoy the arts like the Sinfonietta, Chamber Music and the Cottonwood Community Band, fine dining and, as a relaxation, gardening.
These interests have allowed us to meet a lot of people, many of whom have become good friends. My wife, Mary, is a past President of the Verde Valley Sinfonietta. She also was Vice Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for Sedona and served on the Boards of the Sedona Arts Festival and Arizona Community Foundation.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments and/or one of your most memorable experiences?
Five years ago, at the age of 76, I hiked the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim. I found the most difficult part was heading down from the North Rim to Roaring Springs.
When we lived in New Jersey, I started a soccer program in the mid 1970’s in West Windsor, with eighty children; and they tell me now that there are just under two thousand in the program.
What has been your favorite or most valued work experience? Has the Council provided an opportunity for you to use your expertise?
I am a retired company president of a manufacturing and marketing company to the biotech industry. This experience kept me working in a number of areas including Finance, and honed my ability to separate good from bad and honest from dishonest.
The Council proves many opportunities to put my knowledge and work experience to good use, i.e. Treasurer for two years, serving on several committees and contributing to numerous discussions