LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A $30 million project to relocate residents of a North Las Vegas neighborhood where houses have been sinking was introduced Thursday in Carson City.
Windsor Park, a small area just northwest of the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Carey Avenue, has been a sore subject for nearly 35 years. Homes were built in 1966 without an engineering study, and they began to sink because of subsidence caused by groundwater removal, according to Democratic Sen. Dina Neal.
In a lengthy presentation for Assembly Bill 450 (AB450) Neal, the bill’s sponsor, pointed a not-so-subtle finger at years of inaction by the City of North Las Vegas. She chastised the city for blaming residents for staying even when incentives to leave were offered.
Neal also asked questions about more than $4 million previously allocated to solve the problem between 1989 and 1995, and then additional $4 million over the past 25 years.
Now, AB450 seeks to allocate $10 million in state funds and require North Las Vegas to kick in $20 million to finally fix the problem, moving residents out of the area and into new homes that are at least as big as the homes they’re in now. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development heard the bill.
North Las Vegas opposition
North Las Vegas opposes the bill. Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown gave this statement to 8NewsNow.com on Thursday:
“Using federal government dollars, the city has successfully relocated more than half the residents of Windsor Park since the mid-’90s. Understandably, many people did not want to leave their home. For the past decade, Senator Neal has demanded the city rebuild the homes where they are, which was contrary to all scientific studies and stalled and limited the successful efforts using the federal program. It is great news that she now understands rebuilding a home at Windsor Park is not an option, and we hope her change of heart helps our ongoing efforts to encourage the relocation of the remaining residents.”
Neal’s sharp criticism on Thursday suggests her relationship with the city is beyond damaged.
“I am tired of having to fight for families against their own city,” Neal said. “I’m laying this record out because I’m really tired of the excuses, and I’m tired of the statements that somehow these families missed their golden ticket to leave.”
Neal was upset at the implication that it was somehow the residents’ fault.
“All I’m trying to do is figure out how much money they have left for these Windsor Park families,” she said. “Because there were CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) dollars, there was a Fannie Mae general obligation bond that was supposed to generate $300,000 every year.
“I’m trying to figure out where’s the money. Was it spent? Who was it spent on? Because I know federally, it couldn’t have been spent on anyone else but them. So I’m going to stop there. I think I have told you enough. I think you get the picture.”
William Hardy, finance director for North Las Vegas, said, “We can account for every dollar that has been contributed by the feds, by the state or the city in the Windsor Park funds.” He said about $2.5 million remains from the $4 million provided by Fannie Mae. There hasn’t been much participation lately in the voluntary program to relocate, Hardy said.
He said the only expenditures over the past eight years has been for demolition costs and delinquent taxes.
“Delinquent property taxes?” Sen. Patricia Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) said. “To whom? To whom are the delinquent property taxes owed?”
Plight of residents
Residents told lawmakers of their plight as they testified from the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas.
Barbara Carter, an original resident of Windsor Park, testified in support of AB450. “It is hope for the residents that are still there,” she said.
Myrtle Wilson said she moved to Windsor Park in August of 1965. “I have been going to these meetings with the promises of helping Windsor Park, those that have gone to Washington with HUD to allocate so we would have money to fix up our houses or to do what was necessary. Haven’t seen a dime.
“Most everybody up there, we’re too old to start again,” Wilson said.
The stories from the community continued. The neighborhood is bounded by Clayton Street on the east, Evans Avenue on the north, Chamberlain Lane on the west and Cartier Avenue on the south.
“$100,000 is nothing. The community matters to me. We all want to stay together and fight for the bill, and we really would appreciate some help,” said Nancy Johnson. “The City of North Las Vegas, they has really done us wrong. We deserve better. We do matter.”
For one resident, it’s a nightmare he’s just learning about.
Eli Valdez said he is a new resident who bought in Windsor Park in 2019, and he just returned from deployment. Valdez said there was never a disclosure of the problems in the neighborhood.
“This is all new knowledge to me,” he said.