Skaters may dodge North Las Vegas park fees

Cash-strapped North Las Vegas is trying to avoid excluding lower-income youth from its new skate park while it seeks a way to foot the project bill.

Charging a fee for Craig Ranch’s 65,000-square-foot skate park was a nonstarter for most council members at Wednesday’s meeting.

Parks Director Mary Ellen Donner presented the North Las Vegas City Council with ideas for making sure the 170-acre, $130 million Craig Ranch Regional Park doesn’t become a money pit.

The park, which had its grand opening on Nevada Day, is projected to cost more than $700,000 by the end of the year.

Councilman Isaac Barron railed against the idea, saying that making kids pay to skate would be depriving North Las Vegas youth of a sport that is easily accessible to the masses.

A dollar-amount wasn’t specified for the fee, but Donner said she envisioned a daily entrance fee as well as a three-month pass option.

Councilwoman Anita Wood expressed concern about charging for the park, noting that the city doesn’t charge people to play on the basketball courts.

There was one voice in support of the fee. Councilman Wade Wagner said he’d assumed skating wouldn’t be free from the beginning and was surprised when money wasn’t being collected from the start.

North Las Vegas Police Chief Joseph Chronister didn’t want to take a strong stance for or against the fee, but noted the city gets a big benefit from having kids skating instead of causing trouble in the neighborhoods.

Donner was urged to try and see if the park could break even by holding high traffic events and offering programs.

The skate park just held its first big event Aug. 30 and Donner said she’d look at the revenue and get back to the council on revenue numbers.

Holding events in the skate park is tricky, as there isn’t any seating for spectators, she said.

Donner also proposed drumming up revenue by letting businesses sell concessions and contracting out the tennis courts. Both strategies were popular and she was told to pursue them.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @betsbarnes on Twitter.

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