When the city of Las Vegas took control of Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs in July of 2007, one of the first priorities in redeveloping the park was the creation of a visitors center.
Despite the current budget crunch the city is facing, a park center built from one of the existing historical buildings may be on the way.
Ward 6 City Councilman Steve Ross said state legislators funneled some money last session to Floyd Lamb Park to get started on making some improvements at the facility, located at 9200 Tule Springs Road. The popular recreation area had been operated as Floyd Lamb State Park since 1977 before the city resumed ownership last year.
"But it was less than $79,000, and for a visitors center, that doesn’t get you very far," Ross said. "The entire theme of the park has been to maintain the historical value and use the existing original buildings. Floyd Lamb has a great historical significance. So, once we took a look at what we’ve got there, we absolutely approved of using what is there to create something new."
The proposal suggests rehabilitating the Foreman’s House into a visitors center, which could open by the summer of 2009. But Ross stressed that the concept is still in the planning stages, and more funding will be needed.
"It’s not much (money) at all," he said. "Sometimes people will ask why we’re spending any money on a project like this right now, but you have to understand that certain dollars are earmarked for certain projects. This is money set aside for this park, just as there is money set aside for specific capital improvement projects. It’s funding that has been earmarked long before we found ourselves in this (economic) situation."
Because Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs became part of the Las Vegas historic register in January, all projects must be approved by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
The idea of building a visitors center in one of the 23 historic buildings and structures at the park is not a new one.
Back in the early 1980s when the state park system was doing some long-term planning, a visitors center plan for the exact same building was developed, according to Don White, an architectural plans examiner for the city of Las Vegas who also serves as vice president of the Citizens Action Committee of Tule Springs, a volunteer organization dedicated to sustaining Floyd Lamb Park and better known as CACTUS.
"I wasn’t even aware of that (state) plan when I was putting together a floor plan for that building," White said. "They came out pretty close. Ours has a series of carousel photo exhibits with more small platform exhibits. I’m sure (the previous plans) will greatly enhance the time frame of this project."
White said additional funding for the visitors center could come from Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act funds.
"When the city took the park over, this was one of the top priorities in our phase one wish list," White said. "Our group (CACTUS) is pretty excited that they want to do it right way, especially knowing about the budget the city is working with."
The 680-acre park was a cattle ranch in the early 1940s before it started operating as a divorce ranch in the ’50s. It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places as one of the most well-kept examples of a working divorce ranch. Today, it welcomes visitors to experience its oasis-like vegetation, lakes and wildlife.
Park gate hours from September through April are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance fees are $6 per day per car; $1 for pedestrians or those on bike, horse or tour bus; $45 for an annual pass; or $15 for an annual senior pass.
Brock Radke covers Centennial Hills for the View Neighborhood Newspapers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.