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Tue, Dec. 07

A review of September’s Big Park Community Council meeting

Bell Rock in the distance from a hiking trail in the Village of Oak Creek. (Villager file photo)

Bell Rock in the distance from a hiking trail in the Village of Oak Creek. (Villager file photo)

A review of the Big Park Community Council meeting Sept. 9:

PUBLIC AGENCY REPORT

Randy Hawley, president of the Sedona-Oak Creek United School District, summarized the district’s efforts related to COVID-19 challenges.

The district has updated their COVID Mitigation Plan to include optional mask-wearing for students and staff at this time, and they continue to follow the guidance of Yavapai County Community Health Services.

A new air-filtration system has been installed and surfaces are cleaned daily. Lessons are recorded for students to review after class, which has been well received. For the first time in a number of years the student census has increased - up 75 students from last year.

Donations from the community have made possible a free after-school program called Wildcats Kids Club. Sedona High students can now earn college credit through Dual Enrollment courses in partnership with Yavapai College, College Board Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and Valley Academy of Career and Technical Education (VACTE) central campus offerings.

The school board has added a student representative member. Bookings for the Sedona Performing Arts Center are increasing. The library space at the Big Park Community School in the Village has been leased to the Sedona Public Library with an anticipated opening date of Nov. 1. During the Q&A period, a request was made for a student volunteer to assist BPRCC with audio-visual support for hybrid meetings.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

First I highlighted some of the most VOC-relevant data shared at the Aug. 25 Sedona Community Pulse event.

The 2020 census reported the population of the VOC/Big Park Region is 6,128 and the City of Sedona is 9,684. Both areas show declining resident population, but as of July there are 1,339 short-term rental (STR) units in the greater Sedona area (excluding commercial properties, timeshares, B&B’s and hotels).

In a single month (June-July 2021) there was a 7% increase in STR’s in Sedona alone. The city’s Sedona In Motion (SIM) project reported that from 2020 to 2021 the number of days where travel time from Bell Rock Blvd. to the “Y” exceeded 30 minutes increased by 65% - from 25 to 38 days.

I highlighted a few of SIM’s short- and long-range plans for trailhead transportation, recommending that the Council become pro-active to have the voice of Big Park included in these planning discussions.

A suggestion was made by a council representative that BPRCC join the Sedona Chamber of Commerce for greater involvement, which was well-received and will be explored further. I then reviewed key points presented by the Red Rock Ranger District (USFS), emphasizing their efforts to mitigate the destructive impacts of OHV’s (Off Highway Vehicles).

SECRETARY’S REPORT

Mary Pope reported that there were no changes to Member Organizations or Representatives. 

TREASURER’S REPORT

Patty Reski explained that a year-to-year comparison (2020/2021) is difficult because there were extraordinary expenses in 2020 and a significant meeting room refund in 2021.

Current Zoom expenses have been reduced as the need for concurrent meetings diminished, while email expenses are higher due to increased communication with the community.

She noted that the Dark-Sky and Community Plan committees are self-funding (no impact to Council operating budget), and the consultant retained for the APS Powerline subcommittee’s research was also funded by a committee member.

Reski recommended appointment of Neil Pope, Phil Cox and Carolyn Fisher to the Budget Committee, which was approved.

NEW BUSINESS

The council welcomed Janet Aniol, president of the Beaver Creek Community Association (BCCA).

Aniol explained the dangerous situation on I-17 Exit 293, the sole entry/exit to the Beaver Creek community of approximately 5,000 residents. She reviewed their 35-year effort to have this situation remedied, noting that for most of this time, these much-needed improvements have been on the state’s five-year plan.

She asked that the BPRCC send a letter to the State supporting the BCCA and other neighboring communities who are requesting that the improvements be prioritized.

ADOT studies agree that the intersection is dangerous, confusing and frustrating. Although not geographically in Big Park, our community is greatly impacted by the situation.

A motion was passed that the executive board send a letter on behalf of the Council to the Arizona Department of Transportation supporting the urgent need for improvement to the exchange at Exit 293. Graphics and photos from this presentation can be viewed on the council website.

PLANNING & ZONING

In the absence of Chair Mary Morris, Camille reviewed proceedings of the Sept. 3 committee Zoom meeting. A proposal by AT&T for a new 5G antenna installation was reviewed. Four committee members, one advisor, the APS Powerline subcommittee chair, and 11 community members were present.

Presenting on behalf of AT&T was Steve Olson with Bechtel Infrastructure and Power Corporation. The applicant has been pro-active and helpful providing illustrative graphics and information to the committee, which were shared with the public. They are proposing to install the antenna on a newly constructed tower on State Route 179, across from The Collective, on property owned by the Las Piedras Homeowners Association. 

Community concerns that were expressed at the committee meeting included marring the viewshed at the gateway to the Village of Oak Creek and health risks of 5G. Many letters of concern from community members have been received by the council prior to and since the meeting. A strongly held value among the citizens is preservation of the Red Rock vistas, not just for residents but for visitors and future generations. The committee’s focus is exploring creative and collaborative solutions that support robust utility infrastructure without sacrificing the magnificent, inspiring views.

The committee postponed making recommendations on the proposal in light of the incomplete application and alternative locations under consideration. They will continue to review community concerns and present them as the review process continues. (email info@bigparkcouncil.org)

APS SUBCOMMITTEE

The Environmental Assessment from the USFS, scheduled for August release, is still pending. 

COMMUNITY PLAN

Committee members are working to finalize the reports and are on target to present to the public at the end of September.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLAN

Dave Norton reported that the committee met, finalized its membership and set up a standing meeting date of the Friday afternoon before each regular BPRCC meeting. As specific assignments are identified, the committee will reach out to members of the community for help. 

NOMINATION

Joe Skidmore reported that the committee met on Aug. 18, and have made personal contact with prospective candidates, placed a call for candidates in the VOCA newsletter, and emailed the council subscriber list. The committee was pleased that Mary Pope and Patty Reski agreed to run again for secretary and treasurer, and that there are potential candidates for vice president.

They are still searching for a presidential candidate as Cox has served two terms and cannot run for a third term, per the bylaws. It was clarified that Cox will remain on the executive board as immediate past-president, and the 2022 president will have an experienced support team in place.

UP NEXT

The next meeting of the council is Oct. 14, 9 a.m. via Zoom.

Camille Cox is the president of the Big Park Community Council.

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