Las Vegas Sun

October 13, 2015

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City Government:

Pay to play: Council considers charging admission for park access


Christopher DeVargas

A view of the Craig Ranch Regional Park, currently under construction, Wednesday April 4, 2012.

Craig Ranch Regional Park

A view of the Craig Ranch Regional Park, currently under construction, Wednesday April 4, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Craig Ranch Regional Park

North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon, right, speaks during the Friday groundbreaking ceremony for Craig Ranch Regional Park.  Councilwomen Shari Buck, center, and Stephanie Smith listen as the mayor speaks. Launch slideshow »

Craig Ranch Regional Park

A recreational oasis filled with ponds, skateboard ramps and soccer fields is being established in North Las Vegas, but city leaders are still deciding on whether to charge admission.

The North Las Vegas City Council was presented with a list of options Wednesday night regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the Craig Ranch Regional Park, a 150-acre park at the northeast corner of Craig Road and Commerce Street.

“I’m still not in favor of charging an entrance fee,” said Mayor Shari Buck.

The park would cost about $2.3 million to operate annually, and charging park visitors entry fees would offset the price.

Renting out the park for events and concerts would help fund the annual cost, but Buck said without an admission fee there would be a $500,000 bill that the city would have to foot.

“We don't have the general budget to do it,” she said.

The city faces a $15.5 million budget gap in the coming 2013 fiscal year.

Mike Henley, the city’s parks and recreation director, presented various options to the council, including having the park being privately owned.

Another option was turning the park into a conservancy like New York’s Central Park, where the park would be both publicly and privately owned.

“The conservancy is a good plan, but that’s a long-term thing,” said Ward 3 Councilwoman Anita Wood.

A short-term option would be to charge admission such as $2 to use the skate park, $5 to park a vehicle or an hourly rate.

Though Buck wasn’t sold on the idea of an admissions fee, the council agreed to revisit the issue after more information was collected.

“I don’t have any problem exploring all of these,” the mayor said.

Councilman Wade Wagner said the park will attract residents from all reaches of the valley.

“This is going to be the premier park in the Las Vegas Valley, ” he said.

Wagner was opposed to placing the tax burden on residents of the struggling city and said he considered charging admission as an option.

“We want to save our taxpayers money,” the Ward 4 councilman said. “Unless you use it, you don’t have to pay for it.”

Wagner said construction of the $120 million park wasn’t paid for by taxpayers but from funds received from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act. The act allows the federal Bureau of Land Management to sell public land within Las Vegas, and a percentage of the sale goes back to the state.

Government officials hope to have a maintenance and upkeep policy in place long before the soccer players, joggers and skateboarders are unleashed into the park.

The park is tentatively set to open in late 2012, according to the city’s website.

Wagner said the park would be “a feather in the cap of North Las Vegas.”

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