A few of us got together back in 1975 and purchased a 1,300-acre ranch west of St. George out by Shivwits with the wild, hair-brained idea of making something of it… building a community. At the time, St. George city was about 10,000 in population. Santa Clara was less than 1,000 and there was nothing much in between the two.
The ranch was big, open and untouched except for some fences, and the absence of the junipers sacrificed to build them. A random broken stand of cottonwoods lined an open irrigation ditch which wandered east across the land, through the gorge in a pipe known ad the “invert”, and then south to the ponds and fields near the settlement of Ivins. In those days, the land was home to coyotes, jack rabbits and a few of Joy Peterson’s cows, since the Gubler Homestead was moved into town (Ivins) 50 years earlier… but everyone around knew Californians were crazy. “Didn’t anyone tell ‘em the place didn’t have as much as one share of irrigation on the ditch.”
While we were working out the details of how to develop a water source, bring power and telephone three of four miles, and oh, yes… keep up the mortgage payment and taxes, we jotted down ideas and sketched plans of what might be in store for the ranch… in the hopefully near future. The “Kayenta Concept”, as it came to be known, written in 1979, consisted of a crude master plan map identifying major roads, areas of open space and the identification of development areas which located hundreds of soon-to-be-constructed beautiful desert dwellings. As fate would have it our efforts were about a decade premature. We did, however unwittingly make some observations and establish goals and guidelines which did eventually gave this development a strong philosophy from which to grow.
Two decades later we survey the products of our labor, the manifestation of our passion in the community which we call home. We are proud of our successes. Generous open space elements have retained the uncrowded feeling of our pristine site. The development of an architecture hewn into the site with massing and materials to blend with the landscape has preserved that which was here before. Offensive lighting has been avoided, and we continued refinement of the landscape guidelines which assure that domestic landscape does not obscure the elegant simplicity of the desert flora.
- Terry Marten, Kayenta Developer