Rio Robles Park passed through the hands of several owners since the Schreiner family, who used the 39 acres for grazing their stock, first put it on the market. However, it was not until September 1976 when Ward McDowell acquired the somewhat ordinary "trailer park" that a chain of events led to the formation of the unique place it is today.
During the 22 months that McDowell owned the Park, all residual income from rentals went back into expansion and improvement programs. Eleven new lots were developed, requiring extension of existing water and sewer lines. He purchased an additional land acquisition to provide a buffer zone against the possible future encrouchment of other businesses or tenants. This area, between "G" Street and the clubhouse, provided space for several homes at a later date.
Ward McDowell agreed to sell the Park to John Rogers in the spring of '78. Indeed, the residents, who had observed the growth and development of the Park during Mr. McDowell's ownership, had begun putting down roots, looking to the Park as a permanent home. They had skirted their homes and provided other improvements as required, further linking them to the lots they were occupying. These early residents, reinforced by others who had moved into newly-developed areas, became the nucleus of defenders for the preservation of this close-knit community of homeowners. Startled by the unannounced sale of the Park, the resident-manager noted that the prospective buyer had a tendency to view the Park more as valuable acreage than as home to retirees who hoped to live out their remaining years in a community they had come to love.
On May 18, 1978 the resident-manager called a meeting with residents of the Park to determine the extent of interest in buying the Park. Interest in this proposal appeared to be high, and as a result 40 people or families subscribed to 150,000 shares. Later, eleven additional families were allowed to join the original subscribers. Therefore, the initial issue of stock covered exactly 51 families.
Rio Robles, Inc. was "born" on June 15, 1978 in the Office of the Secretary of State of the State of Texas, when a Certificate of Incorporation, was issued by that office. The purchase of the Park was promoted primarily for the future security of its residents, secure from the whims of constantly changing owners. The hope was that residents would control operating costs, including rents, and that they would enjoy peace and good fellowship in the process. Consequently, any hint that the purchase of the Park was for financial gain to the subscribers would be utterly foreign to the stated philosophy. Furthermore, the establishment of Rio Robles, Inc. was the means, or the tool, necessary to acquire the Park and to achieve the set goals. The sale of stock was simply a method of raising the required capital. Corporate shares gave the owners a voice equal to their pledges. As the Park became a corporation, a surge of pride compelled the residents to volunteer their services in managing, maintaining and upgrading their property. The new president set the pattern by serving both as president and manager without remuneration.
Maturation of the Park evolved under the guidance of succeeding elected boards, as further expansion began. Additional home sites were created by filling in areas. The R.V. section was reduced in size and upgraded; all existing roads were black-topped; the entire Park was enclosed in a security fence, and landscaping and beautification spread throughout the area.
On May 21, 1986 the shareholders of Rio Robles, Inc. approved a "kitchen remodeling project" to expand the existing clubhouse in order to provide much needed space for all social activities in the Park. This major improvement was completed with the help of many dedicated volunteers, and it has not only added to the corporation's fixed assets but has also improved the quality of social life for all residents of the Park. Rio Robles passed the tenth anniversary of resident-ownership of the Park on July 15, 1988. It is apparent that' the policy established by the first Board of Directors to "develop Rio Robles Park to its highest potential" has been consistently followed. The Rio Valle street development, approved in 1987, added eight spaces, seven of them for double-wides which accommodated the growing trend toward larger mobile homes. Today, through kind providence, good judgment, caring boards of directors, willing volunteers, a diversity of talent and unselfish concern of neighbor for neighbor, Rio Robles Park continues to reflect the pride of its residents. These fortunate people enjoy a sense of well-being because they have undergone some rugged times together during which they have discovered in themselves the ability and the will to solve their own problems.
Originally Submitted by:
Revised October 1988