Sun, Oct. 20

How the Village came to be, Part II: The ongoing saga

Here’s where you’ll learn about the early days of the Village of Oak Creek/Big Park (why the two names?) and all about the reconstruction of SR-179 (our Main Street) and much more. Each month we’re featuring a different Village story from Loretta Benore’s wonderful 2016 book, “History, Hilarity and Heartbreak.” These stories were part of Loretta’s popular column in The Villager called “Days of Yore” that ran in the early 2000’s, and now updated, expanded & compiled for her book. The Villager will be exclusively excerpting these stories.

The Village of Oakcreek had its beginning in 1967 when Fannie Gulick’s 920 acres in Big Park were acquired by developer Irving Jennings. There were 3,200 residential sites plotted, but only 30 were sold in the next six months.

By 1970 (after offering free green stamps and other incentives) 700 home sites had been sold.

In 1971 the State of Arizona Real Estate Board ordered a “halt sales” because the Developer (Big Park Development Company) had failed to provide promised amenities. The Developer then tried to coerce property owners to channel all sales or re-sales through its own company, excluding local realtors. This was not only unenforceable, but illegal.

The Developer then incorporated the newly formed Village of Oakcreek Association (VOCA) with the same officers as the parent company. A notice was sent to each VOCA property owner demanding payment of assessments, including retroactive monthly charges, for a total of 18 months. The property owners were incensed.

A protest meeting was held in December 1971 and by January 1972 the Lot Owners League (LOL) was formed and authorized as an Arizona corporation. Its mission was to tame the chicanery and apparent mis-management of the developer.

But by August of that year Jennings, a Developer Principal, found himself in trouble legally with HUD and other government agencies because of development deals in New Mexico and California. He was accused of failure to provide clear titles, improper use of assessment funds, failure to hold proper elections, and outright fraud.

Enter Ray Hose. He was “the right man in the right place at the right time” according to Village folks who lived through this hullabaloo. His background included an engineering degree, various CEO positions, and partnership in an oil refining business. He knew government and legislatures. Ray took on the challenge of ordering the chaos that was known as the Village of Oakcreek.

The original committee that formed the LOL already included Ray Hose (and Helen Hayden too). Ray researched the Developer’s charter and learned it had not complied with its own directives and could also change its by-laws at will.

The LOL sued for non-performance. Ray wrote letters to every lot owner informing them of the situation, and put up a $20,000 line of credit to back the lot owners in their legal battle. Finally, two slates were set up for the board election, one for the Developers and one for the Villagers. Ray arranged for the election to be held at the Elks Club -- no mail-in vote. The Villagers won, seven to one. Thanks, Ray.

Next Month: Part III, Finally, A Village

Loretta Benore was a 20 year resident of the Village of Oak Creek, with a B.A. in History and a M.S.S. in Social Science. Loretta and her husband David retired in 1998 to the Village of Oak Creek where she focused on her first love -- history. She had been a docent at the Sedona Heritage Museum since it opened in 1998 and is a former Board Member of the Sedona Historical Society.

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