North Las Vegas officials might have to limit hours at Craig Ranch Regional Park’s skate park in the wake of graffiti cleanup crews’ first visit to the sprawling 170-acre park last week.
A city graffiti abatement team completed initial vandalism mop-up efforts Friday afternoon, six hours after officials were forced to rope off the park’s much lauded 65,000-square-foot skate park to work on extensive spraypaint tagging in a nearby restroom.
Similar instances of vandalism have spread well beyond the skate park restroom, leaking into hot spots near the park’s baseball fields, community gardens and fenced-in dog park.
Parks and Recreation Director Mike Henley doesn’t predict the problem will soon outgrow park cleanup crews, or the cash-strapped city’s park maintenance budget. He suggested it poses a more immediate threat to operating hours at the skate park.
“The city’s position (on graffiti) is zero tolerance,” Henley said Tuesday. “If that means we have to do a late-opening day during the week for cleanup, then that’s what we’ll look at doing.”
Henley wasn’t sure how much last week’s initial graffiti cleanup cost, but said vandalism abatement projects undertaken within nine months of the park’s Nevada Day grand opening would be assigned to private contractors and backed by $130 million in park construction funds.
Some of those same Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act dollars went toward beefed-up park security over Veterans Day weekend, though Henley has no illusions about keeping an eight-man security team on hand at the park year-round.
“Right now we’ve only got eight guys to take care of 35 other parks,” he said. “That’s woefully inadequate. There’s been a lot of interest in (park security) jobs, but it’s hard to say we’ll be able to keep up that level of security.”
City officials have long since tabled proposed park admission fees and will look to vendor and events revenue to help offset an estimated $2.2 million in annual park maintenance costs once federal lands act funds expire in July.
City spokeswoman Juliet Casey expects the city to charge around $300 an hour to book park event space, a figure that only keeps pace with yearly maintenance projections if major park features such as the central plaza stay fully booked practically round the clock through next fall.
It might take every remaining minute before federal lands act funds run out next summer, but Casey remains confident parks staff will come up with a way to make Craig Ranch sustainable.
“I think the general plan is to make it self-sufficient,” she said. “I’ve already seen people renting gazebos, but I think (parks staff) are willing to look at everything: community garden rentals, park permits, generator rentals — all those things can create revenue.”
Contact reporter James DeHaven at email@example.com or 702-477-3839.