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North Las Vegas park plan chosen

North Las Vegas officials on Wednesday chose a plan for the 132-acre Craig Ranch Regional Park that maintains most of the ranch’s decades-old trees and grassy areas but won’t immediately help meet the growing city’s need for more ballfields.

“I think we have something unique and special,” Councilwoman Stephanie Smith said. “We need to preserve that.”

City officials plan to turn Craig Ranch Golf Course into a regional park where families can stroll, picnic and play.

Designers originally put together three choices for the park. The most popular among residents surveyed emphasized the natural environment, with lots of open space, trails and native gardens. Another combined meadows and wooded areas on one side with sports fields on the other. The third focused on areas for team sports, including a lighted softball fourplex and four lighted multi-use playing fields for soccer and football.

All of the designs included an amphitheater, an aquatic center, a skate park, a dog park, picnic areas and children’s play areas.

City officials decided to consider a fourth alternative that essentially would be a hybrid between the second and third choices and include four softball fields, four multi-use fields and space for basketball and tennis courts.

Several North Las Vegans spoke in support of the first alternative Wednesday. But Councilwoman Shari Buck said ballfields should be included.

“We could have loaded this building tonight with kids coming up and crying and begging for fields,” she said.

Smith agreed the city needs more ballfields, but said, “We need the vision to say, for this particular site, ‘Ballfields aren’t the solution.’ We can’t put all the city’s needs into one thing.”

The council voted to go ahead with the first choice for the park, but retained the option of adding ballfields later.

Craig Ranch, 628 W. Craig Road, became a golf course in the 1960s. North Las Vegas acquired the property two years ago after negotiations with the Bureau of Land Management and golf course owners.

The city secured about $52 million from the BLM under the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act to buy the course, and another $20 million to convert it to a park.

In the meantime, Craig Ranch still operates as a golf course.

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