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Group ends fight to stop publicly backed Henderson hockey arena

A monthslong effort to block a publicly backed minor league hockey arena in Henderson is over.

A group of residents who oppose the construction of an arena at Green Valley and Paseo Verde parkways will not appeal the city’s finding that an initiative to put the project on the ballot was insufficient due to a procedural error, the group announced in a news release Thursday.

“We are going to re-calibrate and look at what more we can do to help the community and to help the community’s voice be heard,” said John Dalrymple, spokesman for the group opposing the plan, called the Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government.

Council members approved the arena in May, with the total $84 million cost of the project to be split evenly between the city and the Vegas Golden Knights. The arena will host home games for the Henderson Silver Knights, as well as community events.

The day before the project’s approval, a group of residents filed paperwork to start a ballot initiative petition. The initiative sought to change the Henderson city charter by adding language that would bar the city from using public money or assets to replace the Henderson Pavilion with an arena.

Residents complained about the project’s location and the use of public money. Henderson has said the pavilion has a long list of issues and is limited as an open-air venue.

Henderson City Council members voted unanimously last week to uphold a finding that the initiative petition to stop the project was insufficient because it did not meet a legal requirement to add a short description to signature pages outlining what would happen if Henderson voters approved the measure. The petition had received more than enough signatures to move the process forward.

In addition the the insufficiency of the petition, Henderson City Attorney Nicholas Vaskov told council members the initiative is unconstitutional because it seeks to block a specific project, not set policy. Because of this, the initiative cannot go on the ballot, he said. Council members voted to authorize the city attorney’s office to challenge the initiative in court, if necessary.

Dalrymple said he was confident the group would win a court battle on the issue of the petition language, but was less confident in winning on the issue of constitutionality.

Even if the initiative made it to the ballot and voters approved the measure, it would not have affected the arena project because laws are generally not applied retroactively, and the arena was approved before petitions were submitted.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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