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Tue, Dec. 07

Big Park Council highlights of October meeting

A map of the long-term plans for Verde Valley School. (VVS/Courtesy)

A map of the long-term plans for Verde Valley School. (VVS/Courtesy)

Public Agency Report Paul Amadio, head of school at Verde Valley School (VVS), updated the council on the history and vision of the institution’s long-range plan.

The campus is 150 acres in total, and none of the open space on the farm side is for sale. The international college prep boarding high school has 125 students from around the world, comprised of 35 local day students and 90 boarders.

The school strives to serve as an example of global citizenship, cultural understanding and sustainable practices and programs for its staff, students and the community.  

Many years back, VVS partnered with Camp Soaring Eagle to develop a portion of the property as a camp for terminally ill children. That project never came to fruition.

As a result, VVS holds two conditional use permits from the county – one for the school and a second for the camp. Yavapai County is recommending that the school update its current permits to one single use permit that encompasses all the institution’s current and intended usage for the next 10 years.

Amadio described some new uses that VVS envisions: expansion of the existing farm for educational and commercial production; updating unfinished buildings; and partnership programs. Specific ideas being explored include: creation of natural walking and bicycle trails; an arboretum; development of stand-alone, natural construction accommodations for guests and staff; restoration of native vegetation; and projects to decrease the carbon footprint of the campus. 

He stressed keeping the land pristine and honoring the native peoples who once inhabited the land.


In follow-up to a September meeting suggestion, council representative KC Kinsey and Candace Strauss, president/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, explained how BPRCC membership in the chamber could bring value to the community.

Several council representatives remarked that membership and participation in the chamber members was highly beneficial to their organizations. It was moved and unanimously approved for the Council to join.


Camille Cox presented a State of the Council report, summarizing how well the Council has delivered during the past two years on Member Organization requested actions.

Authentic community input has been delivered via polls, surveys and open discussions. Information has been widely shared via articles in local, regional and social media. Research has been done on community issues such as the APS powerline, emergency preparedness, bylaws update, and COVID health and safety information, noting that the Council coordinated and promoted two community vaccination clinics.

Accurate and timely information from the County to the community regarding projects and permits, such as the Village Veterinary Hospital, Art & Craft Tent Shows, Horse Mesa Ranch and the proposed AT&T 5G tower, has been dependably delivered. Camille mentioned that relationships with county staff have improved, and a new planning and zoning evaluation system for providing guidance to the county is working nicely.

BPRCC meetings are now modeled on a code of conduct and simplified Robert’s Rules of Order, which have supported efficient and civil discussions. The community at large has been engaged and transparency improved via local media, open meetings, published highlights and website postings.

Lastly, she noted that a formal Dark-Sky Committee was created and has grown to nine active members. She emphasized that most of the challenges identified by the community are regional in nature, not specific to the VOC, and stressed the importance of furthering our efforts to connect and collaborate with neighboring Verde Valley communities.


Patty Reski presented the budget vs. actual for September, then the proposed 2022 budget, with compliments to the budget committee for the hard work and research.

An increase in dues will be necessary as costs are increasing with communication and meeting requirements. She emphasized that the committee kept proposed increases to a bare minimum. The proposed 2022 budget will be discussed in November and 2/3 council approval. After the dues vote, the budget itself will require a majority vote to pass.


Nominating Chair Lenore Hemingway spoke on behalf of the committee (Paul Sullivan, Joe Skidmore and Gwen Hanna). She explained their process and the efforts made to communicate with potential candidates.

The committee’s nominees are: Patty Reski to continue as treasurer, Mary Pope to continue as secretary, and Duane Thompson for vice president. Despite their efforts, the committee was unable to recruit a candidate for president.

BPRCC bylaws call for current officers to continue to serve until a replacement is elected. Concerns were raised that this new (June 2021) bylaw requirement was intended to provide continuity until a new officer was elected, not to have an officer serve for an additional term.

At the conclusion of discussion, the president called for nominations from the floor. Dave Norton nominated himself for vice president. With two candidates for vice president, a motion was passed for an anonymous vote via electronic ballot at the November meeting.


Chair Mary Morris noted that the Use Permit for Horse Mesa Ranch was approved by the county, and that the environmental assessment from the USFS on the APS powerline has been postponed to mid-November.


Cox reported that the committee continues to work on finalizing documents.


Steve Fiedler noted that monsoon storm clean-up is ongoing. He also noted that State Route 179 and Cornville Road improvements continue. The county is working on the State Route 179/Beaver Head Flat intersection. Fiedler also noted that the RRREMD (Red Rock Road Enhancement Maintenance District) is looking into addressing drainage issues on State Route 179, and a bench that was hit by a car will be replaced.

Mary Pope is the Big Park Community Council secretary.

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