A neighborhood association created to fend off attempts by next-door cities to annex their Fresno County island is disbanding.
After almost 30 years, the Tarpey Neighborhood Association is taking legal steps to end its existence, said Bob Levinson, the association's president.
The group has been around since the early 1980s, when Tarpey was targeted for annexation by the city of Clovis.
It wasn't the first time.
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Fresno and Clovis had tried to annex the area – named for Michael F. Tarpey, a prominent local rancher and politician – in the 1950s. Clovis also tried in the late 1960s.
Tarpey Neighborhood Association was a successor to the Tarpey Neighborhood Committee that formed in the early 1950s but also disbanded.
The first homes in the community of about 4,300 residents were built in 1950, when the surrounding area was rural.
Today, it's bounded on three sides by Clovis, roughly between Minnewawa, Sunnyside, Dakota and Gettysburg avenues.
An annexation proposal ended in 1984 after residents said they didn't want water meters, curbs and sidewalks. Today, some residents have water meters, but there are no curbs and sidewalks in the residential areas.
The annexation attempts waned, and in recent years, many of the association's diehard annexation opponents moved or died, leaving an association that once boasted a paid membership of more than 100 with fewer than a dozen dues-paying members, Levinson said.
"We would have a board meeting and find there was nothing to have a board meeting about," he said.
New residents have moved into Tarpey, but some probably think they live in Clovis, Levinson said.
"Most people don't know or don't care" about the association, he said. "It's just not on their radar screen."
Tarpey Village children attend Clovis Unified schools, and the association has a history of giving to the local elementary schools.
Lately, the association has taken on graffiti cleanup and working with residents whose properties have become unsightly and might draw the attention of code enforcers.
Over the years, the association gave trees to residents for planting, held yearly picnics, planted trees along the Clovis Old Town Trail adjacent to their neighborhood and bought a horse for the sheriff's mounted patrol, said Jeanette Shriver, the association's treasurer.
Members also paid for a military and law enforcement memorial and a rest stop along the trail, she said.
The association also served as a conduit to politicians and county officials.
The association's remaining treasury, about $15,000, is being split evenly among the Marjaree Mason Center's proposed Clovis shelter, Clovis Boys & Girls Club and Fresno County Sheriff's Activities League.
As a parting gesture, the association also paid to refurbish the entry sign to Tarpey Village at Clovis and Ashlan avenues, Shriver said.
The end of the neighborhood association doesn't mean an end to Tarpey's independence – although the area relies on the city of Clovis for water service and the city of Fresno for sewer service.
About two years ago, county officials wanted to reduce the number of county islands – communities surrounded by cities – such as Tarpey.
While annexation looms as a possibility, Clovis Council Member Harry Armstrong, who went through battles over annexation, water service and fire service in the last 30 years, said he wouldn't favor it.
After hundreds of residents opposed annexation in 1983-84, council members backed off.
As mayor at the time, Armstrong said: "It's totally up to you, the residents of Tarpey, whether you want to join the city."
Today, Armstrong, still a City Council member, hasn't changed his mind.
"It would have to come from them, not us," he said last week.
Besides, Tarpey's annexation could cost the city more today than it would generate in revenues, Armstrong said.
Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, whose district includes Tarpey, said she is disappointed to see a neighborhood association disband, especially since her Sunnyside neighborhood has such an active association.
"Unfortunately, today, people have less time for community involvement," she said.