Star Vale Mobile Home Park opened with 31 spaces on Jan. 1, 1979.
"It took about a year for it to take off and then we had trouble keeping up with the demand," said owner Ray Lyons, who built the park.
The remainder of the existing park was completed in three phases between 1980 and 1984. The 20-acre property has 92 spaces and was designed, based on San Diego County's 1977 standards, Lyons said.
He opted to use the California standards, because there was very little definitive code at the time they began work on the park.
Lyons said, he first saw the property in October 1976, bought it through a lease purchase in 1977 and started clearing the brush. There was an old house on the property, which now serves as the park's clubhouse, and some old stalls, a shallow well and lots of debris.
Once the property was cleaned up, Lyons, his mother, Gail, and some friends began construction in June 1978, and had enough work completed that December to open in January.
Initially, a part of the park was dedicated to families, but when the Fair Housing Act limited the screening process and required the whole park be open to families, Lyons opted to make it a park for residents 55 and older.
Over the years, Lyons has turned Star Vale Mobile Home Park into a piece of paradise, with lush landscaping and high standards. He drilled new wells, put in underground utilities, including sub-surface drip irrigation and has a self-contained wastewater treatment facility to serve the residents.
Now, Star Vale Mobile Home Park is getting a sister development, Star Vale Terrace Homes. The new, 17-acre development will have 56 spaces for doublewide manufactured homes, each with an attached garage of at least 14-by-20 feet. Site construction took place through most of 2006 and a couple of model homes will be open by mid-June.
"We already have people reserving spaces," Lyons said.
Lyons' business partner, Barbara Hartwell, who manages the park and does the bookkeeping, purchased the property for the Star Vale Terrace Homes development in January 2005 through a land trade. The development is being carved from the granite hills behind the existing park and required extensive engineering work to sculpt the lot sites.
A 200,000-gallon water tank was placed at the top of the property to provide, not only water for the residents, but fire protection, if needed. When everything is operational, there will be three different wells serving residents and a fourth that Lyons uses strictly for his own residence.
"We're fully regulated by the ADEQ as a private water company," Lyons said.
An advanced wastewater treatment system is being put into the development, so the treated effluent can be used in the sub-surface drip irrigation system. There will also be fire hydrants, including two to serve neighboring property, in case of a fire.
"It's self-preserving," Lyons said. "A fire behind us would be a threat."
Lyons is caring for three different nursery sites in the park, which are holding the plants, bushes and trees he will use in the new development's landscape. He said the new landscaping will be similar to what exists in Star Vale Mobile Home Park, but will be modified for area conditions.
He thinks some of the new development will be ready to occupy by mid-July. Anyone interested in visiting the site and models may make an appointment by calling (928) 474-4242 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"I think we're the nicest manufactured home park in Gila County," Lyons said.