Published on December 9th, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic.
A conceptual draft of the long-awaited “shovel-ready” drawings, showing the future Gallinas River Park, is complete. When the final design is approved by the Las Vegas community, it will be a blueprint for what the revitalized park will look like.
The 2018 Community Design Workshop attended by representatives from every part of Las Vegas and its surroundings produced, after three days of discussion, debate, and idea exchange, a conceptual master plan of the future River Park. The current draft is a compilation of all the ideas, recommendations and desires expressed during the workshop and in later group conversations. It is also a document that exhibits how the best can result from compromise and collaboration. The conceptual draft of the “shovel-ready” drawings is based entirely upon the master plan.
But wait … there is yet more work for the community before the final draft can be submitted for approval. On Thursday, Dec. 10 at noon, the City of Las Vegas, together with Gallinas River Park Collaborative (GRPC), and Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance (HPWA) held a webinar to show off the draft and invited more suggestions from Las Vegans. Amy Bell, landscape architect of Groundwork Studio in Albuquerque, presented the information and graphics, described the work, and received comments. To view this important presentation go to: Webinar
When you view the webinar, one of the first things you will see is a copy of the park plan. Study it carefully – it includes all sorts of intriguing features and unexpected delights. Begin at the north end, near Mills Ave. and the Highlands University recycling center. At present, a utilitarian piece of pipe closes the trail to vehicles; further south, a block long, most unsightly, concrete divider hugs the east side of the trail – also to prevent vehicle access. Both of these barriers are to be replaced with custom designed fencing featuring river themes. Elsewhere along the trail, chain link fencing that separates the river walk from commercial enterprises or from the Highlands University campus is to be made interesting with inventive decorations.
Other sites dotted along the river walk will be devoted to public art. Opposite the old trolley barn (now the McCaffrey Media Arts Building) an abandoned rail spur can be seen. The space near it is designated as the Railspur Sculpture Garden. At the south end of the river walk on the west side near the first foot bridge is a fallen cottonwood. Instead of hauling it off, the plan is to convert it to something eye-worthy – a dragon or other fanciful creature. Many of the sites up and down the trail are labeled eddies. Don’t be confused by the word – it is meant to convey a gathering place for two or maybe a few persons. They might be places to contemplate scenic views or appreciate works of art, or just to sit.
Of course, a park is not a park without play spaces for children, and if it is a river park, good fishing spots are a must as well. Strategically placed flat-top boulders plus a fishing deck are spotted up and down the river and provide reliable access to the fish. Since it is essential that park amenities be accessible to all, an ADA (Americans with Disabilities) fishing/observation platform is planned at the bird watching pond (now under construction). On either side of Bridge Street, two nature play areas pop up where children of any and all ages can gather and let their imaginations rule.
Other park essentials – some that appear on the plan, others not there yet – include an amphitheater, an outdoor classroom, more trash cans, lighting for safety, and walk-way repair. The exercise equipment, installed ten years ago or so, will be moved and grouped in a single designated space for easier access. River walk users may observe the dense Bosque on the Northern section of the river and wonder how some of the planned structures and especially fishing access can possibly find space in this tangled thicket. The area is indeed in need of thinning and that task is to be directed by Tierra y Montes Soil and Conservation District – Las Vegas. The work will be carefully supervised with dead growth, some low-growing vegetation, and invasive species of trees, such as Siberian Elm, to be removed.
All parties concerned with both river restoration and park revitalization have been particularly attentive to the need to work together. It would not do, for example, to construct a fishing deck at the very place where boulders for bank stabilization are to be situated. Oxbow Ecological Engineering LLC (the organization that plotted the stages of river restoration), Watershed Artisans (the construction company implementing the restoration plan) Groundwork Studio (the designer of the park), and Tierra y Montes Soil and Conservation, routinely check to make certain that they are not getting in each other’s way as they progress toward completion of their various tasks.
We implore you to watch the webinar, again you may find it here: Webinar
After you’ve watched the webinar, had some time to digest the information, and find yourself full of questions, comments, or have a suggestion, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Amy at 505-212-9126.
She’s accepting comments and feedback until January 31, 2021