The year 1973 was so important to the success of the community that those of us that invested in its future were pleased with the way things were going.
This week’s history lesson continues the story of the significant growth that occurred and what it meant to the new community, that it was well on its way to meeting the projected population of 78,000 people at buildout. I know that figure raises a lot of questions with those of you who moved here and enjoy living in a less dense and smaller populated community. But that will be the subject of my column for another day.
This week I am going to tell you about the rest of the story that was 1973.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, The Fountain Hills Builders Association put together, with the assistance of the developer, McCulloch Properties, a self-guided tour of 22 model homes in the community constructed by 14 different builders. McCulloch built the Model Home Center, which is where people coming into the community would begin their tour.
The Model Home Center was filled with displays and brochures with information on the participating builders. McCulloch ran large ads in Valley newspapers to attract visitors to come to Fountain Hills and see the model homes. The program was quite successful. It attracted even more builders to the community.
As each new builder came to the community, they brought with them a variety of styles and prices for their products.
(Incidentally, that building McCulloch built for the Model Home Center was used as the Community Center for many years. It is now used by the Fountain Hills Theater for staging of its productions.)
Another piece of the puzzle that became Fountain Hills was the Orme Dam and Reservoir. I ran a full-page story on Page 4 of the February 1973 monthly edition of The Fountain Hills Times telling about how U.S. Interior Secretary Rogers Morton had signed the contract assuring funding of the Central Arizona Project.
Included in that funding was the Orme Dam and Reservoir which would have been built just east of Fountain Hills. Those who previously bought lots in the community were ecstatic about the prospect of having a large lake to the east and the positive effect it would have on all their property values.
But it was not to be.
Protests were led by members of the Fort McDowell tribe. They faced a loss of two thirds of their land being flooded with the creation of Orme Dam at the confluence of the Salt and Verde rivers.
The proposed dam became more controversial when environmentalists joined the protests pointing out that there were at least several bald eagle nesting spots in the area to be flooded.
The final “nail in the coffin” came when it was determined that the lake’s level would vary greatly being a relatively shallow body of water. Thus, in years of heavy runoff, the level could have backed up into homes along the eastern boundaries of Fountain Hills. In dry years, the lake’s level could be drawn down enough for agricultural needs (the main reason for the construction of the Central Arizona Project) that the result would be large expanses of mud flats.
With this knowledge, the outcry against building Orme Dam grew louder. Finally, the dam was deleted from the plan and another option was found to store water at Lake Pleasant by raising the level of its dam.
Getting back to my story about Fountain Hills growth in 1973; it was the year that the business community really took off.
The following is a list of the new businesses that opened their doors in 1973:
*Fountain Hills Realty & Investment Company
*Fountain Hills Insurance, Larry Ryerson a Farmers agent
*Fountain Hills LP Gas Co.
*Stan’s Beef ‘N’ Burger restaurant
*Fountain Mountain In Bar and Grill
*Huck Finn’s restaurant
*Mr. G’s Interiors
*Adams Brothers Interiors
*Del Camino Nursery
*Ben Friedman, attorney
*Scottsdale Exterminating Co.
*Sherry’s Gift Shop
*Fountain Secretarial and Answering Service
*Fountain Hills Janitorial Service
*Fountain Hills Security Police
*Dave Gray, Designer
*Red Carpet Realty
*White Sun Realty
*Fountain Hills Starrsweep
*Little Theater of Fountain Hills
*McDowell Mountain Stationery and Office Supplies
*Building Materials Store
*Rainbow Gift House
*Mr. G’s Accents
*Casa de las Leones
*Casa Verde del Camino
*Fountain Kone Emporium and Candy Shop
The last eight listings were shops in the Village Bazaar, the community’s first shopping Center that opened in December 1973. It was quite the year!