Vegas Verdes: The River Park is Your Park

Published on July 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic.

In 2020, the Gallinas River Park and its river have seen and will see many astonishing improvements. The Task before us is to ensure that every citizen of Las Vegas comes to realize that each of us and all of us owns the Park. We are living in an unbalanced time and none of us has a perfect handle on how best to cope. The confined inactivity and isolation imposed by COVID-19 has required adjustment. Each of us needs a place where we can go for a few minutes or a few hours; where we can reconnect with our carefree self and breathe deeply. The place is the Gallinas River Park. It is owned communally and equally by all of us for our common use. Ownership means there are no barriers to its use.

There are, sadly, some individuals or groups that believe they don’t belong on the river or in the Park because they haven’t the means to buy fancy outdoor equipment, or their skin is the wrong color. It matters not if we are black, brown, white, LBGTQ, straight, even a little crooked, or all of the above; nor does it matter if we drive a Mercedes or a Ford pick-up. The Park offers the same escape to each of us, and we each need it now more than ever.

The Park runs along the river for roughly two miles and so some part of it is close enough to reach by foot for many of us. Except during Riverfest, there are no crowds.

The City of Las Vegas, mindful of the personal security worries of solitary walkers and others, expects to establish foot (or bicycle) patrols along the river walk. The City also wants to hold a “Senior Citizen Day at The Park” with guides and assistance. To keep trash at bay, there are regular clean-ups and at least one public work day is planned so that all of us can get our hands dirty.

Take a leisurely stroll and you will encounter others doing the same. Dog
walkers find the perfect environment for entertaining their pets and said pets
are either on a leash or have just finished obedience school. Moms and dads,
having run out of at-home diversions for their 2-6 year olds, discover the real
meaning of a “walk in the park” and their kids begin to learn about the
wonders of the great outdoors.

One Las Vegas man volunteers his time trying to direct the attention of
teenagers beyond themselves. In an effort to expose the kids to outdoor
activity and disconnect them from their screens, Aaron Gallegos shows teens
the river walk possibilities – the river ponds for swimming and fishing and the
bicycle/walking path. He also instructs them in the proper use of the exercise
equipment that is situated at intervals along the river park.

If you drive to the park, you can leave your car at Bridge Street and set out in
either direction walking just as far as is comfortable.

Strategically placed benches provide a temporary resting place and a nice vista
as well. The Park is ideal for bird watching if that happens to be your passion.
And look out for public art. A few of the boulders that are part of the landscape
have been decorated by a phantom artist. The Gallinas River Park Collaborative
(GRPC) has inaugurated “Saturday Walk In The Park.”

This is a guided stroll – to join, meet at Bridge Street at 9 a.m. You will discover
in the wonderfully welcoming community of Las Vegas, the Gallinas River Park
is a jewel of a welcome mat.

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