Sunset Park Opens 140 Acres of Improvements to Public Tuesday
A new and improved portion of Sunset Park that has been years in the making is now open to the public, providing walking trails, a dog park, a children’s play area and a nod to important historical events that preceded the park.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak, whose district includes the park, opened a new portion of it at a ceremony today. Relatives of those who played a role in the history of the site were on hand to acknowledge the 160 acres of improvements at 2601 E. Sunset Road at Eastern Avenue.
New features at the regional park include a new 3.5-acre dog park that is three times the size of the previous dog park, multiple-use trails with signage describing the site’s history, native and drought-tolerant landscaped areas, children’s play areas, multiple shade structures for picnics, pedestrian bridges, and new access from Sunset Road along with an interior roadway.
“This area is one of the few places in town that families can go and have fun for free,” Sisolak said. “These new improvements will hopefully give people a place to escape, enjoy the outdoors and forget all of the stresses of everyday life. I know the new dog park will be especially popular with neighbors.”
Construction began on park improvements in the middle of 2009 at a cost of $11.1 million in funding from the sale of federal lands as outlined by the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act. Another $65,000 came from Regional Transportation Commission funds.
The County made a concerted effort to not only improve the site but to preserve and highlight its historical importance. It contains trails with signage pointing out some of this history. Sunset Park was once home to early ranchers John F. Miller and former Las Vegas Club and Tropicana hotel casino owner J. Kell Houssels. Japanese immigrant Yonema Tomiyasu grew vegetables on the site, providing food for those who built Hoover Dam. Paiutes inhabited the site a thousand years ago and greeted visitors who sought to trade seeds, nuts and turquoise. Water continues to flow under the park and surfaces to provide irrigation to the entire west end of Sunset.
The park, the land for which the County acquired in 1967, also contains the last remaining dunes which once covered most of Paradise Valley. Trails encircle these dunes, and a railroad line is visible. More than 200 plant species in the Mojave Desert are found nowhere else on the planet and many of them are preserved at Sunset. The park is also home to abundant wildlife. In fact, Sunset Park is one of the last habitats for Phainopopla, a tiny black-crested bird with red eyes that lives among the mesquite.
The 325-acre regional park is already very popular. It has been a perennial “Best of Las Vegas” Review-Journal pick for the past five years and was selected as the Best Park by Vegas Seven magazine and Yelp.com in 2010. The Parks and Recreation Department also received awards from various entities for best tennis courts, best softball fields, and best dog park. Sunset Park has received numerous awards for special events, most notably for the Renaissance Fair, which attracted 40,000 people over three days last October.
The improvements being unveiled Tuesday completes Phase 1 of the park’s 20-year master plan, adopted in 1999. The second-phase improvements have not yet begun, but will focus on bringing a 75-acre portion of the park up to date.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 14th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 40 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 7th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The county also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.