Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Map of Craig Ranch Regional Park
629 W Craig Rd, N. Las Vegas
North Las Vegas’ Craig Ranch Regional Park is finally ready for visitors.
After more than 10 years, three mayors, two city financial emergencies and several delays, the embattled 120-acre park is scheduled to open Friday. The park, which was transformed from the Craig Ranch Golf Course, was designed with the input of more than 1,000 residents to be the crown jewel of North Las Vegas.
There are large fields of grass and trees, ponds, a skate park, four playgrounds, athletic fields and public gardens. The park is large enough to have its own microclimate, and it has plenty of activities to keep visitors from every age group occupied, North Las Vegas Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Mike Henley said.
The city projects the park, at 628 W. Craig Road, to draw 750,000 people from North Las Vegas and across the Las Vegas Valley and, as a result, for the park to be an economic boost to nearby businesses and home values.
“This is a legacy project,” Henley said. “It will be enjoyed by my children’s children’s children. I think this park will contribute to the solution.”
But there is still the problem of the park’s $2 million maintenance cost. City Councilman Wade Wagner said the city was looking into developing a conservation group that would raise money to support it, but some of the cost will remain on the city’s budget for now.
Still, Mayor John Lee said the park is a first step in the city’s transformation.
With the park’s long-awaited opening less than a week away, here are seven features to look forward to:
The park has 62 raised planter beds that North Las Vegas will make available for rent beginning next spring. Henley envisions elementary schools, elderly residents and neighbors renting planters and transforming the barren dirt beds into gardens overflowing with flowers, squash and trees. The lighted area also offers a shed for compost.
Next to the community garden, a dozen dirt patches form concentric circles in the cement and tiny, twig-like trees protrude from the field. In another year, park officials expect those patches will be filled with roses and the trees will slowly begin to branch out. In addition to beautifying the plaza that surrounds it, Henley said this area would become a popular wedding spot. The city also hopes to generate some revenue through the garden by seeking sponsors for plots.
North Las Vegas developed the park’s four playgrounds with one idea in mind - for kids to get their hands dirty again. Four playgrounds spread across 5 acres vary in theme from woodsy forests to rocky deserts. They are equipped with enough activities to keep kids active for hours. The playgrounds have slides, climbing walls, a “rattlesnake” tunnel and slide, speakers that play animal noises, equipment that spins kids in circles, and a spray ground. In short, they are designed to let kids run wild again.
The amphitheater is the next stage in the park’s development. The city recently received $6 million from Clark County to construct a stage backed by a rockwork backdrop and a pond, with shaded terrace seating for more than 3,000 spectators. Henley said the amphitheater is designed to become a premier outdoor entertainment venue for the northern portion of the valley, projected to draw 200,000 spectators a year and net approximately $316,000 for the city through rentals and ticket revenue. For now, however, a large mound of loose dirt covered in grass occupies the space.
Craig Ranch Park also has an outlet for extreme sports enthusiasts with a 60,000-square-foot cement skateboard and BMX park. The skate park, designed by California-based Wally Hollyday Skateparks, has bowls, ramps, grinding poles and lighting for night rides, among other features. The area will be open to the public for free and will offer classes and competition in the future, Henley said. The skatepark is also the largest in the Las Vegas Valley. Henley said the city hopes to leverage that fact to draw major events.
For all its acres of green fields and playgrounds, the park has kept its sports facilities at a minimum to start. The park only has two youth baseball fields, a sand volleyball court and basketball courts. The baseball fields will be available only for little league games or tournaments; the other features are open to the public. Sports facilities were not a major emphasis in the park’s first phase in order to maintain the park’s natural wide-open meadows and forestry, Henley said. That is expected to change with the purchase of more than 35 additional acres, where preliminary plans call for six full-size fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, and an indoor field house.
Craig Ranch Park has four plazas and several picnic shelters available to rent out or for hanging out. The Central Plaza is the largest of the four and is equipped with water troughs that spill over a wall to form a waterfall. Henley said the picnic areas would be available for family reunions and corporate retreats while the plaza will be a popular spot for city events.