Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004 | 11:21 a.m.
The seats up for election and their incumbents in the coming year's municipal balloting:
City Council (recall): Ward 1, Janet Moncrief.
City Council (regular election): Ward 2, Steve Wolfson*; Ward 4, Larry Brown; Ward 6, Michael Mack**
Municipal Court: Dept. 2, Betsy Kolkoski; Dept. 3, George Assad; Dept. 5, Cedric Kerns.
North Las Vegas
Mayor: Michael Montandon*
City Council: Ward 1, Robert Eliason*; Ward 3, Stephanie Smith*
Municipal Court: Dept. 1, Warren Van Landschoot*; Dept. 2, new position.
Mayor: Jim Gibson*
City Council: Ward 3, Jack Clark*
Municipal Court: Dept. 3, new position
City Council: Andrea Anderson*; Michael Pacini*
*Announced will run for re-election. **Announced will not seek re-election.
For area cities 2005 will be a year filled with campaigning and elections through the spring, and growing pains and gains throughout the year.
The year should be marked by continued construction around rush-hour routes, plans to fill patches of desert with homes and businesses, and new investment in area downtowns.
The coming year also is the 100th anniversary of the land auction that laid the groundwork for what would become Las Vegas.
Beginning with the annual New Year's Eve fireworks, there will be events throughout the year to mark the centennial celebration, including the return of the Helldorado Days parade -- on May 14 -- followed by the eating of what is promised to be the world's largest birthday cake on May 15, which is the date of the 1905 land auction.
Other events include, 100 weddings on June 9 at the Fremont Street Experience, the unveiling of 100 murals around town throughout the year, and a Fourth of July party.
Most of the incumbent elected officials from the area cities whose terms end in 2005 have said they will seek re-election; including the mayors of North Las Vegas and Henderson. As of Friday, Las Vegas City Councilman Michael Mack was the only one of the elected officials whose terms expire in 2005 who had announced he would not seek re-election.
The election season will kick off early with the Jan. 25 recall election of Las Vegas City Councilwoman Janet Moncrief.
Around that same time, candidates for the regular city elections will have to formally file to run. The primary elections will be held April 5, with early voting from March 19 to April 1, and the general elections on June 7, with early voting from May 21 to June 3. In all the cities, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in a primary election, they are declared the winner and no general elections is held in that race.
At stake in the elections will be council seats in all the cities, plus municipal judge positions in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. Voters in North Las Vegas and Henderson will also be selecting judges for newly created positions that were added to deal with the increased caseloads that have come with the rapid growth in those cities.
Continued growth on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas, will also move forward in the coming year.
Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson, who said he will seek re-election in the spring, said "one of the most important things coming will be the development agreement and ground breaking on the 1,900 acres."
Henderson, which along with North Las Vegas has been one of the fastest growing cities in the country in recent years, is negotiating a development agreement with the Focus Property Group, which paid $557 million for 1,940 acres in west Henderson at a June Bureau of Land Management auction.
"This marks the beginning of another sizeable master-planned community," Gibson said. He added that when combined with the anticipated auction of an adjacent 2,000 acres in the near future, Henderson will see the development of what he said could be described as "a city within the city" on par with other large developments the city has seen throughout the years such as Green Valley, Anthem and Lake Las Vegas.
Henderson City Manager Phil Speight said the development agreement, which is expected to set a limit on the number of homes that will be built on the property, is expected to go before the council early enough in 2005 for work on roads and water and sewer lines could begin on the land by the end of the year.
Las Vegas officials are also awaiting the February BLM auction of 1,710 acres around where Kyle Canyon Road meets U.S. 95. Las Vegas City Manager Doug Selby said he expects the council will approve a development agreement for the land later in the year. As many as 9,500 homes are expected to be built there.
And in North Las Vegas, City Manager Gregory Rose and Councilwoman Stephanie Smith said they expect concerns over native plants to be addressed, clearing the way for a summer or fall auction of 2,300 acres along the city's northern boundary.
That property is just east of Aliante, a master-planned community on 1,905 acres that is eventually expected to have as many as 7,500 homes. Rose said the 2,300 acres have some geographic and environmental issues that limit the available developable land there, which means the 2,300 acres will probably have the same number of homes as Aliante.
The downtowns in those cities will also see new development in the coming year.
In North Las Vegas the new $29.7 million Justice Facility will open Feb. 17, with the first court cases expected to be heard in the new courtrooms March 1, Municipal Judge Warren Van Landschoot said.
The new building will have three courtrooms. Van Landschoot is only North Las Vegas municipal judge now, and voters will elect a second in 2005.
"We really need it. We're bursting at the seems," Van Landschoot said.
The new courthouse will also have space for a third court, plus some detention center processes, such as booking and a medical area, the judge said.
Construction has been almost non-stop around Henderson City Hall for the last couple years and the last of it, work on an $11 million plaza on the Water Street side of City Hall, should start and come close to completion during 2005, Henderson City Manager Phil Speight said.
Also, two private downtown projects, an office building and condominiums, are expected to start construction during 2005.
Gibson said that while those projects alone will not change the face of downtown, if they are successful they will encourage additional development.
"If we are successful with them, it could be the beginning of the reinvention of downtown," the mayor said.
Downtown Las Vegas, the first of what's expected to be many new condominium-filled high rises soaring into the Las Vegas skyline could be finished.
The Soho Lofts, a 16-story building on the corner of Hoover Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, is rising from the ground and residents of the luxury condominiums are expected to begin moving in as early as December.
Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Wolfson said there is great optimism at City Hall surrounding this project, and the others expected to follow.
"To make downtown a great place to work and live you have to make it an attractive place to live," Wolfson said. The condominiums in Soho Lofts range from $380,000 to $2.4 million.
Also in downtown Las Vegas, plans for the city-owned 61 acres of former Union Pacific rail yards should take shape.
The development plan for what the city has dubbed Union Park will probably be negotiated and approved during the first half of the year. The city is working with The Related Cos. who are vying to be the master developers of the land, which city plans call to include an academic medical center, Alzheimer's research center, performing arts center, and residential and commercial development. The land could also be home to a new City Hall and a baseball stadium.
Selby said there probably will not be much construction on the 61 acres in 2005, and the Alzheimer's center could be the only building breaking ground there next year.
But the land around the 61 acres will probably see significant changes.
On property at the north end of the site, a new IRS building is expected to open in January or February. Construction on an adjacent building that will house offices of the Southern Nevada Water Authority is also expected to begin in November or December.
Near the other end of the 61 acres, the nearly completed World Market Center, another project the Related Cos. are involved with, is expected to be ready for its first furniture market in July.
Another harbinger of growth, increasingly crowded roads, is behind many of the major roads projects in the works.
Among the most visible are the reconstruction and addition of highway lanes at the southern crossing of U.S. 95 and the Las Vegas Beltway, known as the Henderson spaghetti bowl.
Work on the $82.2 million project began in 2003, and will continue through 2005, with completion expected in summer 2006.
Work on notorious Rainbow Curve of U.S. 95 will also continue. By May or June a new ramp that would bring traffic from the Summerlin Parkway to 95 North is expected to be completed. However, work on widening the highway around that area and toward the I-15 interchanges will remain on hold pending the outcome of a federal court decision.
And in Boulder City, officials say they will continue pushing for a new highway -- called the Boulder City bypass -- that would bring traffic from the Hoover Dam around the city. But construction is probably years away. Virtually no money has been set aside yet for the bypass, expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and a route for the highway has not been OK'd by the federal government.