|Prescott Valley Town Attorney Ivan Legler discusses an item with paralegal Cindy Corcoran, left, and system assistant Susan Atkinson, center, at their Civic Center offices.|
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz
After serving as Prescott Valley's town attorney for 23 of its 35 years, Ivan Legler said, "Nothing I do is significant in and of itself. This department is one cog in the team. I'm always part of a project."
Legler, his wife and five children arrived from Pocatello, Idaho, in 1990, a dozen years after Prescott Valley's incorporation. Going from a town of 45,000 with a staff of four to a town of 8,000 and "me, myself and I" (and a part-time secretary), Legler said he thought he must be crazy. But strong family ties drew them.
Now he's back to four full-time and one part-time staff and a couple of workers from Northern Arizona Council of Governments. But along with the town's department teams, he credits community facets, including (but not limited to) the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Foundation, Tim's Toyota Center, Yavapai County Fairgrounds, Humboldt Unified School District, Central Yavapai Fire and the Fain family for Prescott Valley's forward thinking.
"I remember that Mayor Ed Smith had a vision that we would be the place were commercial development came. I was quickly made aware of this vision and told to look at what Prescott Valley would become, not what it was. We knew we had all this open space and jobs where people would come to work and live. People expected it to grow."
That growth began as a big new sewer project was in the works.
"The feeling was, every community needed to have control of its own water system," Legler said.
In 1984, the townspeople voted for Prescott Valley to form its own improvement district.
But before the Town could buy Shamrock Water Company from the Fain family, a myriad of issues had to be resolved. When Legler came into the project, he quickly had to get up to speed on improvement districts.
Throughout the 1980s, Legler said, the Fains had worked to sell Shamrock to the Town, trying to deal with the real obstacle of federal taxes they would be charged on the sale.
"Also the Town really had no credit," Legler said.
He said the plan fell apart in 1988, and lay fallow for seven years until 1995 when the Fains came to the Town to "make this happen," because an IRS proposal for a new rule would make it even harder to sell the water company within the next year.
"Excruciating" negotiations with the IRS by Town Manager Ken Rittmer and Public Works Director Larry Tarkowski, Legler and Fain lawyers finally resulted in a Community Facilities District.
By then it was 1999, 15 years after the vote, so town officials canvassed public opinion with a "straw poll."
"The reaction was surprisingly in favor," Legler said.
The result was the Town sold $25 million in bonds and bought Shamrock.
About the mid-1990s, Legler said, "an incredible thing happened."
"Property values doubled and tripled overnight," Legler said. "People were knocking our doors down, desperate to pick up lots in Prescott Valley. People realized Prescott Valley was not a sleepy little hollow, but a place for families - come one, come all. Those were heady, exciting days. We were a town."
The building boom went bust about mid-2007.
Although the vision was put on hold from 2008 to 2013 during the depressed economy, people never entirely lost sight of it.
Currently, the town is seeing a resurgence in building starts in surrounding subdivisions: Granville, StoneRidge, Pronghorn Ranch and Quailwood.
Town officials also are "picking up the pieces of older projects," such as water and annexations.
He marveled at how Prescott Valley has progressed from a bare patch of desert with no trees, roads or services to a thriving community.
"Sometimes I think the whole town has been an LOF - leap of faith," he said with a grin.