ALLIED AMERICAN INV. CO.
PETTIT et ux
Appeal from Superior Court, Maricopa County; Harold R. Scoville, Judge.
Kramer, Morrison, Roche & Perry, of Phoenix, for appellant.
Harold J. Janson, of Phoenix, for appellees.
LaPrade, Judge. Stanford, C. J., and Udall, J., concur.
[65 Ariz. 285] This action was brought by appellees (plaintiffs below) for the purpose of securing an adjudication that Block 5 of Willow Addition, Maricopa County, Arizona, is a public park, and to enforce the asserted right of plaintiffs and others similarly situated to use the block for public park purposes. Such adjudication was made by the trial court. One of the defendants, Allied American Investment Company, the admitted owner of an asserted valid tax title to said premises, has appealed.
A resume of the evidence establishes these facts:
On March 26, 1913, Phoenix Title & Trust Company, Trustee, caused a plat of Willow Addition to be recorded in the office of the County Recorder of Maricopa County, on which plat Block 5 is marked "Park." The plat contains a formal dedication of the streets and alleys shown thereon, but makes no reference in specific words to any attempted dedication of Block 5 as a park. The property is not within any city or town. The entire addition was used for farming purposes as late as 1924 or 1925. Thereafter lots in the addition were sold and reference was made to the recorded plat in effecting such sales. For many years nothing was built on Block 5, though children played on it from time to time.
Several purchasers of lots testified that they were induced to buy lots by virtue of the fact that Block 5 (an area 275 ft. x 350 ft.) was designated as a "Park," on a plat exhibited at the time of their purchases. At a time when there were approximately thirty resident householders in the subdivision, a voluntary and informal community water association was organized and this association located a well on the block and for a number of years developed domestic water for the residents of the subdivision.
No affirmative steps were taken by the county to accept the dedication of such block as a park. It was assessed for the purposes of taxation each year and taxes were levied against it. Taxes were paid on it for some years and then the owner ceased paying taxes. Finally, it was sold to the state for taxes. Appellant paid for and secured a certificate of purchase, and on May 3, 1943, a treasurer's deed issued to it.
On September 7, 1944, appellant entered into an agreement for the sale of this property to Howard P. Walker. Walker sold certain portions of the property to persons not parties to this action, and two dwelling houses were in the course of construction when this suit was commenced.
The trial court found that the assessment and levy of taxes and the sale for unpaid [65 Ariz. 286] taxes were valid, but concluded "* * * that the purchasers of Block 5, the Allied American Investment Company, took title to Block 5, Willow Addition, subject to its free use and enjoyment by plaintiffs and other purchasers of lots in Willow Addition as a public park." In other words the trial judge concluded, as a matter of law, that the purchaser at the tax sale acquired ...