Talk of converting The District into an active streets has some residents upset

Talks of converting The District at Green Valley Ranch from a pedestrian walkway into an access street for cars to drive through has several patrons upset.

"It’s going to ruin it," said Joe Prestipino, a Henderson resident who visits The District often. "I have collected 1,000 petitions. I could have collected more. We all don’t want it."

A handful of residents approached Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen, Councilman Sam Bateman and other city officials about the proposal at a April 24 meeting.

According to residents, Vestar, the company that purchased The District at Green Valley Ranch in 2011, has been talking about transforming the pedestrian street into an active roadway, which would create more parking spaces and potentially help attract more business. Vestar officials did not respond for requests to comment.

"We can agree (The District) is an oasis," said Grieg de la Houssaye, a resident who shops at The District often. "Nothing quite like it around."

De la Houssaye said the proposal could ruin the ambience of The District and hurt customer service.

"If we don’t do something now, no one will say anything until after construction starts," de la Houssaye said.

De la Houssaye and other Henderson residents are trying to get the city to set up a meeting with Vestar now before the company gets too far with its plans.

Hafen agreed to use his contacts to try to set up a meeting.

"But I am not going to be a champion for or against (the project)," Hafen said.

Hafen said he was around when The District was first approved.

"It was originally approved as a through street," Hafen said. "I was surprised when the street was shut down."

Hafen said as far as he is aware, Vestar isn’t planning to do anything until after the holidays. He added that he does not believe Vestar would need to ask the City Council for approval.

"So far, Vestar hasn’t submitted anything," Hafen said.

Hafen believes Vestar is willing to meet with neighbors to explain the idea.

Chris Connors, owner of Rachel’s Kitchen in The District, attended the meeting to hear the options before him.

"We are in a unique situation now that Vestar is our landlord," Connors said.

Connors said he sees where both sides are coming from. On one side, he understands the need for more parking.

"On Friday or Saturday nights, we need more parking," Connors said. "I usually tell people to park at Green Valley Ranch and walk over."

On the other side, Connors thinks his business might lose some of its outdoor seating if The District is converted into a through street.

Connors said safety is another concern.

"How often do we turn on the news and a car has accidentally gone through a storefront?" Connors said.

Even though Hafen said he would help set up a meeting, he said he didn’t want to give anyone false hope.

"We just want to give it a shot," de la Houssaye said.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.

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