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North Las Vegas volunteer group helps keep newest park pristine

A volunteer group is taking initiative in showing support and maintaining North Las Vegas’ newest park, Craig Ranch Regional Park, 628 W. Craig Road.

The Friends of Craig Ranch assist North Las Vegas Parks and Recreation staff members with event sponsorship, volunteer coordination and community outreach. The group dedicates itself to maintaining the safety and aesthetics of the park.

“Things are really changing in the city,” said Jon Oats, president of Friends of Craig Ranch. “I really wanted to see the park become successful. It’s an important community asset.”

Oats said he realized there was a dire need for a group that could support the new park, which opened in October last year.

“This is a beautiful city with tremendous potential,” said Gregory Smith, a local Realtor and resident. “The city has been given a bad reputation, and it’s struggling with financial issues. We want to work hard to try to redefine and reshape the city’s image.”

The primary focus of the volunteers is to provide a constant community presence in the park.

Oats created the park ambassador program, in which volunteers can help through picking up litter or surveying park patrons about their experience.

Grace Point Church, Las Vegas Disc Golf Club and College of Southern Nevada Serves have partnered with the Friends of Craig Ranch to give the ambassador group more than 200 members.

The group opened community gardens at Craig Ranch this month and has plots available for $150 for the year. The city provides water for the gardens, and people are free to grow any legal plants.

Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson of North Las Vegas said he is supportive of the group.

“There is no doubt that the Friends of Craig Ranch are the heart of the park,” Thompson said. “Everyone who’s a member has the same goal and investment to make it a great place for the community.”

Oats hopes to hold one event every week at the park.

In the past, the group has sponsored basketball tournaments, skateboard competitions and walking and running events.

“Many people are concerned on the amount of money that is spent on the park,” Oats said. “But there are a lot of ways to revenue money from the park. One of our main goals is to make the park financially viable.” City officials estimate the annual maintenance costs of the park at $2.2 million.

The group held a Martin Luther King Day of Service in January in which community members were invited to help clean the park. Oats said he had more than 300 volunteers participate in the event.

With the help of the volunteers, the group claims to have provided the city with at least $20,000 worth of free service.

In the near future, the group hopes to form subcommittees, which will be in charge of different aspects of the park. Oats hopes to categorize the subcommittees by those who want to focus on the dog park, skate park and sports areas, among other duties.

“We want to see the park succeed because North Las Vegas has had a notorious reputation for many years,” said Steve Shoaff, volunteer. “Taxpayers deserve to see a nice park.”

The group is scheduled to host Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 29 in the Meadowlands of Craig Ranch Regional Park. The event is to include food, music and performances.

“The park is the crown jewel of North Las Vegas,” Oats said. “This is very rewarding work, especially when we see the reaction of people who are just discovering the park.”

For more information, visit friendsofcraigranch.org.

Contact North Las Vegas and Centennial View reporter Sandy Lopez at slopez@viewnews.com or 702-383-4686.

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