Update on Las Vegas Wash improvements draws positive response

After surviving a devastating flash flood season in 2012, Sunrise and Whitney residents gathered Nov. 13 for a third public meeting on the Las Vegas Wash project. Despite initial concerns, residents showed optimism and support for the ongoing undertaking.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, whose District E includes much of the affected areas, hosted the meeting to provide residents and business owners with an update on the latest construction.

“I am thrilled that we had such a great turnout,” Giunchigliani said of the meeting. “The tone was very positive. We had a wonderful synergy and people were very understanding.”

The project is set to provide 4 miles of flood control improvements to the Las Vegas and Flamingo washes in residential and commercial areas.

Before the meeting, Giunchigliani promised to hold more such events to keep people informed.

Residents filled the room to capacity, and while a few expressed concerns, most were enthusiastic about the project.

“I’ve been a resident since 1988,” said Danielle C. Walliser, who attended the meeting. “Residents have put up with a lot, especially during the flood season. This area was in need of a project like this.”

In June 2012, the Clark County Regional Flood Control District passed a resolution to reserve $35 million for the Las Vegas Wash improvements and increased the reserve to $50 million in May for flood improvements to the Flamingo Wash.

The scope of the project includes renovations from Sloan Channel to Bonanza Road, the Flamingo Wash from the Las Vegas Wash to Nellis Boulevard and the reconstruction of the Desert Rose Golf Course, 5483 Club House Drive.

The meeting covered the first phase of the project, which involves the area of the golf course near Sahara Avenue and started Nov. 12, five months earlier than expected.

The first phase began in October when Clark County initiated herbicide application on the turf at the Desert Rose Golf Course.

Bill Wellman, project manager, said the first phase would focus on removing 280 trees, turf and de-watering wells from the golf course. In addition, crews are scheduled to clear rocks and create a stockpile of topsoil this month.

The planned renovations are expected to add trees, lower the golf course 14 to 15 feet and provide increased playing widths and contoured holes.

This new configuration is aimed at making it easier for players to walk the course and provide a scenic finishing hole on the redesigned course, according to the project’s website, lvwashproject.com.

Some residents expressed concerns over the fencing of the golf course and the animals that lived inside the area, which Wellman said was not a part of the project’s scope.

The need for improvements to the washes became apparent when changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s high-risk flood zone area mapping in 2011 affected 1,700 homes and businesses. Record rains in 2012 also impacted many residents in the area of the two washes and the Desert Rose Golf Course.

Due to the flooding, additional storm drain pipes and inlets are slated to be placed along the project area to collect flow from adjacent neighborhoods.

Other planned improvements include a concrete channel lining from south of Bonanza Road to Nellis Boulevard and from west of Sloan Lane to the Sloan Channel Confluence on the Las Vegas Wash.

In addition, there is also planned bridge and roadway reconstruction on Sahara Avenue and sanitary sewer relocation along the Flamingo Wash.

The project is expected to take two years, while the golf course is estimated to reopen in late 2014.

The average yearly rainfall in Las Vegas is 4.25 inches. During July and October 2012, nearly 4.6 inches of rain fell, according to the project’s website.

“People were furious at the first meeting, and it’s understandable,” said Erin Neff, public information manager for the Clark County Regional Flood Control District. “A lot of residents can’t afford flood insurance. When FEMA requires flood insurance for 1,700 homes that are in a flood zone, it’s hard for people to get out.”

Once the project is completed, an application is scheduled to be sent to FEMA to request a change to the high-risk flood zone mapping, removing the 1,700 homes and businesses from the designation.

For construction updates and travel advisories, visit lvwashproject.com.

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Sandy Lopez at slopez@viewnews.com or 702-383-4686.

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