The deal that was struck to build Arbor View High School came with 40 acres and a fight.
Built at the height of the construction boom and sited on rows of peach, pear and apple trees carved out of northwest Las Vegas’ historic Gilcrease Orchard, the future home of the Aggies was perhaps always bound to attract critics.
Plans to build the 232,000-square-foot school received the Clark County School District go-ahead in 2004. It faced immediate opposition from neighborhood homeowners and rural preservation advocates worried about the impact of school traffic and pollution on the neighboring orchard and animal sanctuary.
The concerns did not surprise Arbor View’s first principal Patrick Hayden.
Hayden, who retired in 2011, remembers facing neighborhood concerns for each one of the four schools he opened in 34 years as an educator.
In every case, heated community meetings took place and lawsuits were threatened and filed but everyone learned to get along.
“I think after the initial shock, they warmed to it,” Hayden said of Arbor View’s opponents. “We went to (homeowners association) meetings, we worked closely with the Gilcrease brothers, we did everything we could to develop a relationship with the community, to assure them that the traffic would be manageable. You see it in every community that gets a new school, but in the end, it’s progress and it’s tough to battle that.”
Residents, students and others hardly had a choice. The Clark County School District was bursting at the seams, opening nine new schools in addition to Arbor View in 2005.
School officials, expecting more to follow, built Arbor View to hold almost twice the number of students expected to attend on its first school day. Its hallways have long since filled up, today hosting somewhere around the school’s 2,700-student capacity.
Arbor View’s award-winning, mall-style design, drawn up by Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects, has received praise from school officials for its “small-school feel” and energy-efficient design.
It was welcomed with a resounding yawn by residents, according to longtime office manager Lynda Frawley.
Frawley, who was around to hear complaints from those opposed to the school’s two-story, orchard view-obstructing towers, said these days, the shoe is on the other foot.
Soon, she fears, Arbor View could lose the tree-lined views that won the school its name.
“If you look to our east, you can see a fruit tree orchard,” Frawley said, “except they’re putting up 100 homes over there. D.R. Horton started grading in May. If they’re planning on making them two stories, you won’t be able to see it anymore. So yeah, you might have to kiss the arbor view goodbye.”
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3839.