North Las Vegas might settle this week on a plan to restore the historic Kiel Ranch, home to one of Nevada's oldest buildings and the site of infamous murders.
But how the financially strapped city will fund the $5.4 million plan remains in the air.
"Funding is a big obstacle for us right now," said Michelle Menart, a city planner.
The city has renewed efforts to clean up and develop the long-neglected site -- which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places -- since mid-2006, when preservationists and other community members took officials to task for allowing Kiel to deteriorate into a weed-choked blight and sometime homeless camp.
The new, "preferred" plan, which is the eighth and cheapest design option the city has considered thus far, includes a historic park and a $2 million scenic overlook with views of the ranch's old adobe building and natural springs.
The City Council is expected to vote on the plan today.
Preservationists support the plan but worry it might not do enough to protect the delicate adobe building and springs, said Corinne Escobar, president of the Preservation Association of Clark County.
"We don't ultimately know how the plan will really preserve the site," Escobar said.
Still, "if it is implemented as planned, it will be a beautiful site," she said.
The ranch, on Carey Avenue near Commerce Street, is home to a lot of local history.
Kiel is believed to have been settled either in 1855 or in the 1870s by American Indians with help from a group of Mormons.
The ranch was the site of the 1884 shooting death of neighboring landowner Archibald Stewart, husband of Nevada matriarch Helen Stewart. No one was ever prosecuted in the case.
The 1900 shooting deaths of ranch owners and brothers Edwin and William Kiel also occurred there. The deaths were ruled a murder-suicide at the time. But local anthropologists later determined that the brothers were killed by another person.
Much of the ranch's original 27 acres was sold off and covered by industrial development. Seven fenced-in acres remain and belong to the city.
"It's really a shadow of what it could have been," Mayor Shari Buck said Tuesday.
Transforming the closed ranch into a public historic park depends on finding outside funding sources, the city said. Development could be stalled indefinitely if the city doesn't get significant financial help, officials acknowledged.
"All I know is we don't have the money right now," Buck said, adding that she hasn't decided whether to support the new plan for Kiel.
"My hope is that partners will step forward and help raise money and be involved in the maintenance and upkeep" of the ranch, she said.
In 2007, the city received $356,000 in Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act funds toward development of the ranch. It also has received $188,000 from the Nevada State Commission for Cultural Affairs. And the city has had about $400,000 separately earmarked for Kiel.
That still leaves it with a long way to go.
Having a final, approved plan for the ranch should make donors more willing to support it, Menart said.
The city held two community workshops and four public meetings to gather input for the plan, which was designed by Phoenix-based Coe & Van Loo Consultants, Inc.
"It's been a really good, collaborative process," Jon Jainga, park planning and development manager for the city, said as he walked the dusty ranch on Tuesday.
The plan is designed to be completed in four phases, starting with the historic park. Restoration of the natural springs would come next, followed by installation of a boardwalk around the springs and a scenic overlook.
A fence would surround the adobe building to keep it secure, Jainga said. And the boardwalk around the springs hopefully would encourage people to keep out of them, he said.
"We want to be able to use the area, but also protect it."
The plan includes walking trails and picnic areas. The park would be free and open from 5 a.m. to midnight.
The city has intermittently focused on restoring the site for decades. A lack of funding, competing priorities and disagreements on what should be done with Kiel have stymied the efforts, the city said.
Jainga said that this time, the city is truly committed to the restoration of Kiel Ranch.
But preservationists aren't holding their breath.
"This is not the first time the city has developed a 'master plan,'" Escobar said. "This is our third or fourth time around. We're concerned this is just yet another plan produced, but they'll say, 'Sorry, we don't have the funding.'"
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285.