Henderson approves concrete channeling in part of Pittman Wash

After years of back-and-forth between the city of Henderson and environmentalists, the City Council on Tuesday approved a construction contract that will preserve most of the natural state of the Pittman Wash at Arroyo Grande Boulevard.

The $8.3 million contract funds an arch culvert on the north side of the channel, preserving a natural spring down the middle of the wash. It replaces a controversial plan to build a 10-feet-deep, 20-feet-wide concrete channel down the center of the wash at a cost of $4.5 million.

Community organization Project GREEN: Friends of the Pittman Wash gathered 700 signatures in 2011 opposing the original project and worked with the city to reach a resolution.

“The natural spring that’s been there between railroad trestle and Arroyo Grande, every attempt is being made to preserve it intact,” Project GREEN Vice President Evelyn Gajowski said.

City engineer Scott Fiedler said the city has worked with the group on the new design, which meets the standards for handling a 100-year flood set by the Clark County Regional Flood Control District. It will preserve the natural groundwater flow at the center of the wash. The flood control board approved the design on April 10.

Project GREEN commended the council and Fiedler for working with the group on reaching the resolution.

“We’ve reached the point where the city can be very proud of your efforts to match environmental concerns with flood control,” Project GREEN President Curt Chandler told the council.

The City Council approved the increased budget in September 2011 when it gave approval to redesign the project.

The new design will have a 350-feet-long concrete open channel west of a railroad trestle that will direct water to the arch culvert.

Also, there will be a 100-feet-long open concrete channel before Arroyo Grande. That will leave 1,450 feet of the wash in its natural state.

The majority of Pittman Wash to the west will remain a semi-natural wash devoid of the concrete channels that are a common feature in the valley’s flood control efforts, according to Fiedler.

That portion of Pittman Wash is more vulnerable to erosion, Fiedler said, because the developer of Green Valley narrowed the channel to build more houses nearly 20 years ago.

“A lot of the wash was a lot wider, a lot flatter,” said Fiedler, who has attended monthly meetings with Project GREEN since 2011. “As it gets to the railroad, it gets a lot narrower and a lot steeper.”

The neighborhoods adjacent to Pittman Wash formed Project GREEN, having been involved in volunteer planning, maintenance and design decisions for the wash since before 2000.

Construction by Las Vegas-based Meadow Valley Contractors is scheduled to start in May and last 12 months. The city will manage the construction.

Gajowski said she still feels divided about the project because she knows bulldozers will have to be in the wash for construction, which will harm some of the natural habitat.

However, she is happy the city listened to the group’s concerns overall.

In other action, the council approved taking a $20,000 grant from the Drug Enforcement Administration to help “defray costs relating to the eradication and suppression of cannabis” by the Henderson Police Department. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/ Suppression Grant, a program started in 1979 in California and Hawaii.

The funding will be used to pay for overtime expenditures directly related to cannabis enforcement efforts.

It is the fifth consecutive year Henderson has received the grant. City police have arrested 358 adults and 60 juveniles for marijuana-related offenses from Jan. 1, 2013, until Tuesday. The police busted 25 indoor grow houses in 2013, seizing 392 plants.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Follow on Twitter @KnightlyGrind.

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