An Active Adult Community


OUR HISTORY 1972 – 1992

In 2010, it was decided that our community’s history should be “chronicled” for the benefit of new and prospective residents as well as the community at large.  The Board of Directors assigned the Communications Committee to the task.  The Homeowners Association’s records were researched for key decisions and actions.  Many of the clubs and organizations in the Sun Lakes community were contacted so that their origins and history could be included.  The focus of this project will be the Cottonwood Palo Verde at Sun Lakes community.  However, the link to the first Sun Lakes community, “Sun Lakes Phase 1” (now known as “Sun Lakes Country Club”) is also recorded.

In early 1972, if you visited the area East of Interstate I-10’s exit 167, you would find lots of cactus and cotton fields, a few paved roads, and dusty soil which Developer E. J. Robson would turn into three homeowner owned communities with a population of approximately 20,000 residents. 

The following is a history of the events since that time. The Communications Committee will update this information annually.


In 1972 E.J. Robson began the master planned community of Sun Lakes Phase 1 developed by his company named Sun Lakes Marketing.    He first built the clubhouse and a small shopping center which contained a very small Basha’s store and a gas station.  By 1974, 500 mobile home lots had been sold.  The first residents had to go to the clubhouse to get their mail; there were no phones or street lights.  There were nine holes of golf.  A volunteer fire department was established which lead to the fire auxiliary which transitioned to become the Sun Lakes Women’s Association we know today. Potluck dinners were very popular. 

Yoga classes began at Sun Lakes Country Club

The oil crises slowed down sales and Sun Lakes Marketing was in financial difficulty.  A $100,000 loan put them back in business but the company was unable to post the required bond with Maricopa County to continue building; however the county was convinced to release 20-30 lots at a time and the lot sales continued.  In 1978 Sun Lakes Marketing switched to building stick-built homes. 

A community newspaper called The Splash, produced by Sun Lakes Marketing, began publications in 1976.

Sun Lakes Development Corp. (Robson Communities) deeded the Sun Lakes Community Chapel to the Chapel trustees and their successors. Link to Warranty Deed picture.

The Sun Lakes Fire District was formed in July 1975
The Sun Lakes Sheriff’s Posse was established by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department in the late 1970’s.

Phase 1 (Sun Lakes Country Club) was completed and Sun Lakes Marketing began building Phase 2. The attached drawings were the original sales brochure for Cottonwood home buyers. One share of stock was issued to each purchaser although it had no monetary value.
1. Drawing of Cottonwood Country Club
2. CW Recreation area drawing
3. Stock Certificate

Unit 10 CC&R’s recorded 1/17/79 stipulated that 9 holes of the Cottonwood Golf Course be completed within 2 years of the first lot sold.

Nine holes of Cottonwood Golf Course were developed and the Cottonwood Men’s Golf Association was formed.  Link to CW Golfers picture. The Cottonwood Ladies Golf Association was also organized.

Property was purchased by Sun Lakes Marketing for the Ironwood addition.
Maricopa County paved Riggs Road which until then had been a dirt road.
The Cottonwood Ladies Bridge Club was organized and met every Thursday for cards and lunch.

Construction began on the Cottonwood Clubhouse complex.
Cable Lines were installed offering homeowners in Phase 1 42 channels at a cost of $9.95 a month.
The Cottonwood Tennis Club was organized.  Information about this club can be found on their website is
Sun Lakes Writers’ Group was organized.

The Cottonwood Clubhouse complex was completed.  There was a dining room in the clubhouse as well as various craft rooms, a billiard room, exercise room and a small library in a courtyard setting.  The pro shop was located where the Cottonwood Café/Saguaro Room is now. 
The second nine holes of the CW golf course was completed
Cable lines were installed in Cottonwood
Ten hot air balloons were launched from Cottonwood Country Club
The Cottonwood Boosters Club was organized.
The Kiwanis Club of Sun Lakes began and operated for 28 years in Sun Lakes. It ceased operating in 2011 having donated $600,000+ to projects that helped children around our community through their fundraising efforts.

Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, and 2 Cottonwood homeowners selected by Sun Lakes Marketing made up the 5 member Board. The homeowner members were Edna Pitts & Bob Schriver
11/1/1984 Palo Verde Golf Course opened.
The Forum was created to serve as a voice for the homeowners on the Sun Lakes Marketing controlled Board.

Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, and 2 Cottonwood homeowners selected by Sun Lakes Marketing:  Edna Pitts & Bob Schriver
Homeowner dues:  $396    Golf Memberships:  CW $600, PV $350, Combo $750 (3 courses including Oakwood)
Unit 20 became the first gated area for lot sales.  Its success resulted in Palo Verde becoming a gated community.
The Palo Verde Pro Shop opened.
The Palo Verde Clubhouse was build. Link to picture PV Clubhouse 1985 and picture PV Clubhouse.
The Palo Verde guard houses were completed.
The Dancing Grannies were organized. Link to Dancing Grannies

The Palo Verde Ladies Golf Association began.
The Michigan Pool and cabana in Unit 20 was completed
A civic center was operated out of the Riggs Road Shopping Center.  Dances, banquets and community meetings were held there.
A new pro shop was built and the 18 holes of Cottonwood Golf Course were reconfigured
The 19th Drive restaurant and bar opened in the former CW pro shop building.
Nine holes of golf at Oakwood became available to CW/PV homeowners.
The Lions Club was chartered.


Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, and 2 Cottonwood homeowners selected by Sun Lakes Marketing:  Edna Pitts & Bob Schriver
Homeowner Dues:       $396 + $36 Gate fee for PV residents
                        Golf Memberships:  CW $600   PV$350  Combo $750

A new putting green completed at Cottonwood (next to the driving range)
Street lights were installed in Cottonwood by SRP.
The Palo Verde Men’s Golf Association was formed.
Rotary Club of Sun Lakes was organized.
The Computer Booters of Sun Lakes Club was organized

Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, and 2 Cottonwood homeowners selected by Sun Lakes Marketing:  Edna Pitts & Bob Schriver Homeowner Dues:  $396 + $36 Gate fee for PV residents
Golf Memberships:  PV $450, Combo $750 (3 courses including Oakwood)    
The PV security gates were installed.
The Chuck Wagon began serving sandwiches on the patio opposite CW driving range
The Rotary Club operated the Booster van taking homeowners to Fiesta Mall, airport and doctor’s appointments
The Silver Foxes a performing dance group were organized
The Sun Lakes Hiking Club which had started with a "voice crying in the wilderness" became incorporated.

Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, and selected by SLM Homeowners:  Hugh Wells, Jack Zimmerman
Homeowner Dues        $546     Golf Memberships:       PV $500, CW/PV Combo $850,
 3 course combo including Oakwood $1,150
Robson hosted a “We’re Glad to Be Back” party in a tent at CW parking lot.
Second nine holes of golf was completed at Oakwood.
Sun Lakes Community Theatre became an official club

Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, and  Homeowners  Hugh Wells, Jack Zimmerman selected by SLM
Homeowner Dues   $546          Golf Memberships:  PV $500    CW&PV $850    Combo $1150 3 courses including Oakwood)
The dining room and restaurant operation which had been located at the site of the present San Tan Ballroom was moved to the Palo Verde Club House
The Capital Reserve Fund was established
The San Tan Ballroom was completed.  There was a need to replace the civic center located at the shopping center.  At the homeowners’ request, the promised ballroom was built. 
The Sun Bird Golf Resort was acquired by SLM which is east of Palo Verde on Riggs Rd. and it was available for our use.
The transition agreements, which among other things, conveyed title to the amenities (including two golf courses) to the Association were finalized and ownership transferred to the SLHOA#2 homeowners free and clear of any indebtedness.  A new reciprocal agreement with Phase I (Sun Lakes Country Club) and Phase III (IronOaks) was approved.
Mesa Community College begins offering classes at Sun Lakes
November 15, 1989 the four documents comprising the Transition Agreement were approved as one package with 90% approval from the SLHOA#2 homeowners.. The four documents were: The Phase II amended Articles of Incorporation, the Transition agreement, the Phase II/Phase III Reciprocal Agreement and the Lakes Management Agreement.

With homeowner approval Unit 26F in Palo Verde was added to SLHOA#2.

1990 Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, 2 Homeowners:  Bob James, Roberta Sisk were elected by homeowner votes only.
Homeowner Dues:  $546  Golf Memberships:  PV $525, CW&PV $875, CW/OW $1,050 Combo $1175 (3 courses including Oakwood)
A section of Unit 26F was added to our community with homeowner approval
A new Cottonwood putting green was built
The CW irrigation system, excluding the golf courses, was replaced due to major pipe failures in old system

1991 Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees, Bob James, Roberta Sisk
Homeowner Dues $546  Golf Memberships:  PV $525  CW&PV $875    CW/OW $1050

1992 Board Members:  E. J. Robson, 2 Robson employees. Bob James, Roberta Sisk
Homeowner Dues $596
Arizona Department of Water Resources mandated all golf courses reduce water allocations causing Cottonwood Golf course to lose 14 million gallons of water allocation.
Cottonwood Golf Course was reduced from approximately 140 acres under irrigation to 90 acres by installing desert landscaping using about 12,000 tons of decomposed granite. Link to picture Cottonwood Golf Course Opening.
Summer 1992 new Bermuda Tifway 419 grass installed on CW golf course 9 holes; the second 9 installed summer of 1993.  A new computerized irrigation system was installed with a new main, laterals and sprinkler heads.
The total cost desert landscape and Tif 419 grass project was $1,415,650.
Riggs Road was widened from two to four lanes.

An article about Mr. Robson and his development of Sun Lakes appeared in the Arizona Republic on 5/16/2011. To view this article:




*Cottonwood Palo Verde at Sun Lakes is an age 55 and older housing community in accordance with the Arizona and Federal Fair Housing Acts.