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Kiel Ranch developers hope to break ground on phase two construction by next summer

Design of the first phase of construction at Kiel Ranch is about 70 percent complete, and construction is expected to begin in mid-2013, said Johanna Murphy, a planner with the city of North Las Vegas.

“The development of a historical site requires an archaeological survey, so if more things are found on the site, it could delay the construction,” she said.

She expects that it will be open to the public by mid-2014.

Phase one of four on the 7-acre property near Carey Avenue and Commerce Street is expected to include interpretative signage, a trail, picnic areas, a restroom, a parking lot and an entrance gate through funding by the Bureau of Land Management authorized by the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.

The restoration of the adobe building on the site, one of the oldest in Las Vegas, was part of the initial project and completed last year after years of disrepair. The adobe is a one-room building with a basement that was used as a general store. The bricks added to the structure in the repair were formed from clay on the property to try to keep it as authentic as possible.

The building was part of the homestead established by Conrad Kiel in the mid-1880s, but the land had previously been established as a farm by Mormon missionaries. The ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1975 and was acquired by the city in 1976.

The start of phase two is expected to begin even before the initial phase is complete. The project was designed to allow multiple phases to be ongoing as long as there is funding.

Mike Henley, deputy director of North Las Vegas’ Parks and Recreation Department, said the closed-off park occasionally has a problem with homeless people camping near the spring inside the park, but usually it is quiet.

In addition to the historic relevance, Murphy said the park will help the city with its goal to make sure that residents are only a half-mile away from a public park. The next closest park to residences surrounding Kiel Ranch is more than a mile away, she said.

Eventually, they plan to construct a raised boardwalk that will let residents interact with the wetlands around the natural spring within the park without harming them. The spring is currently inaccessible.

Murphy said she will submit an additional grant by Dec. 14 to add windows and doors to the adobe building and complete restoration of the basement, once used to keep general store items cool.

Henley said the public has been supportive of the project overall, though some raise concerns about funding to take care of the park once it is open. In response, he said many preservation groups and residents have offered to volunteer their time once it opens.

Phase one includes security of the adobe, Park Family mansion plaza, adding orchards and native plants. Phase two covers the spring restoration, and phase three covers its access. Phase four at the other end of the park includes an overlook of the wetlands.

Kiel Ranch was not a priority above building other parks in recent years when the city had a great need, he said, but now it is front and center at the planning commission.

“It’s a special project for everybody,” Murphy said. “Especially once we get the spring restored, it will become a real tranquil oasis in the middle of our urban context.”

The city is considering purchasing the vacant property adjacent to Kiel Ranch, once part of the original 240 acres, but the timeline is still up in the air, Henley said.

The property is in foreclosure, and the city is talking with the trustee of the land about acquiring it, but he said he has been party to enough acquisitions that he’s not holding his breath.

“We’re definitely interested in it, and I think it would be beneficial, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out,” he said.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Laura Phelps at lphelps@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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