VERDE LAKES – It’s possible that one day, the Town of Camp Verde will take over ownership of the lakes in the Verde Lakes Estates.
Discussions have been going on for about a year, according to Troy O’Dell, Public Works deputy director for the Town of Camp Verde.
Camp Verde Town Manager Russ Martin says that the Town is in the “early stages of reviewing the situation out there” as it could consider assuming responsibility for the 1.2-acre property currently owned by the Verde Lakes Recreation Corporation.
On the surface, the issues surrounding the lakes and how they serve their community are complex, as the lakes are oftentimes half-full, and the dam, spillway and trees are what O’Dell calls “maintenance hungry.”
At the end of the day, it’s about water, upkeep and use, says Town of Camp Verde’s Troy O’Dell.
“Can the Town afford the maintenance?” O’Dell asks. “Yes. Repairs need to be done to the spillway and trees that the Verde Lakes Recreation Committee cannot afford. To do that, the Town would [need to] assume [responsibility].”
No hydrants in the area
To Terry Keller, it makes no difference who owns the lakes – or the water within. Because there are “no hydrants in the area.” Keller, fire chief of the Copper Canyon Fire and Medical Authority, says that Verde Lakes are a “vital source of water for us, so it is important that we keep [the lakes full of water].”
“It does seem more logical that the Town would be able to better maintain [the lakes] and perhaps provide some improvements, so that they could be relied upon as a source of water for firefighting in the area,” Keller also says.
Transfers of ownership – twice?
Should the transfer of property take place, the Verde Lakes Recreation Corporation plans to stay involved by restructuring its non-profit status.
“It would be a win-win here for everybody,” says Russell Moore, VLRC president.
The Verde Lakes Recreation Corporation hasn’t always owned the lakes and park at Verde Lakes. Once owned by the Moody family, the property was willed to the Corporation in October 1982, according to Jim Young, VLRC vice president.
In Young’s mind, transferring the property’s ownership to the Town of Camp Verde is much like Moody’s initial willing of the property to VLRC.
“But we’d like to make it available to the entire community, not just the Verde Lakes community,” Young says.
Always meant to be a community park
The Verde Lakes park was “always meant to be a community park,” says Troy O’Dell.
A statement that Deb Moody says she agrees with.
Moody, whose father Elmer once owned the property before he willed it to VLRC, says she would like the land to be used as “an inclusive park,” with a “well and fire hydrant for the residents.”
“We can dig a well here and drink fountain water,” Moody says. “The water is good here.”
Martin says it’s possible that Town Council could “have a work session in September, and maybe by October we will be ready to determine go or no go” on assuming responsibility of the property.
Maintenance and operations
According to O’Dell, Public Works “is interested in accepting it as a public park [and] taking over the maintenance.”
“The recreation organization is interested in the Town taking over, [it] would include town [codes] and presence with Marshal’s Office,” O’Dell says. “Rules that apply to a public park. No different than living next to Butler Park.”
Should the Town assume responsibility of the property, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Division Manager Mike Marshal says it would be “a great opportunity to have a neighborhood park” on the town’s easternmost end.
First step would be an “assessment of what we have and what we want it to look like,” Marshall says. “We want to improve it to make it better for the users.”
Marshall also says that “basic ideas” include parking, fencing and security. “It would be good to have picnic tables, both covered and not, and also a ramada,” Marshall says. “One or two fountains at each of the ponds. Moving water will help keep out the mosquitoes.”
But Marshall and O’Dell both say the Town would likely prioritize the spillway and the dam.
“Lakes have been there since early 1900s,” O’Dell says. “We don’t want to see them jeopardized.” O’Dell envisions upkeep on the property a matter of “continuous improvement.”
“We’d want people to be happy that the Town took it over,” O’Dell says.
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42