A gate that drew howls from residents of the city of Las Vegas’ Courtyard complex for the homeless when it was unceremoniously installed last month has been reopened, but city officials say the reprieve is only temporary.
A $175,000 permanent gate preventing vehicles from entering Foremaster Lane from Las Vegas Boulevard North has replaced the temporary barrier that the city initially put up. That forced Courtyard residents to walk nearly a half mile to reach bus stops that used to be a short walk of about 250 feet. It was a particular struggle for the disabled, some of whom said they lacked the strength to make their way up the incline on Foremaster
But the permanent gate has been left about halfway open, allowing both cars and pedestrians to pass both ways, since it was installed this week. That led some homeless seeking services at the Courtyard or nearby Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada to conclude that the city had decided not to close Foremaster off to foot and vehicle traffic after all.
But Kathi Thomas-Gibson, the city’s director of community services, said that once a demolition project is ended, the gate will be closed again.
“It gives people a chance to get accustomed to its presence, and we have some construction going on inside the Courtyard — another building will be coming down next week and trucks are going to be moving through there,” she said. “We’re still a construction site.”
The building being demolished is the old Thomas and Jones Funeral Home, which will be replaced either with offices or space for more service providers as part of the build-out of the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center, which is set to be complete in 2021.
The gate, funded through a community development block grant, was installed because of “safety issues with homeless individuals spilling onto Las Vegas Boulevard from overcrowded sidewalks,” according to city spokesman Jace Radke.
The gate also is intended to block vehicles from traveling along Foremaster through the congested area where Courtyard residents congregate, a route used by an average of 550 vehicles on weekdays, according to a city traffic study.
Radke noted that disabled clients and families will still be allowed to use a back gate at the Courtyard to access Las Vegas Boulevard, while able-bodied residents will have to use the Main Street entrance and make the hike.
But confusion over plans for the gate remains common, with several residents expressing surprise this week when told that the gate would not be kept open.
“This is a passive aggressive approach,” said 44-year-old Star Kincaide. “It’s a frivolous nuisance, basically.”