Sunday, May 23, 2010

What's Wrong with the City and NDOT (Environmental Injustice in West Las Vegas)

Please include these comments as part of the F Street Project. Although I have major concerns about the effects of Project NEON and the I-515 Project, I will limit my comments to F Street.

I was extremely disappointed that I was not allowed to speak more than 2 minutes at today's town hall meeting for F Street. The town hall was scheduled for 9am to 12pm, and finished at 11 am. I consider this process undemocratic and consistent with the strategies identified in the book "The Failure of Planning" by Richard Hogan. It's unfortunate that NDOT and the City of Las Vegas continue to use the same failed strategies that got us here.

NDOT and the City of Las Vegas need to address and remedy the past environmental injustices, to include the 1956 plan, the closing of streets in 1968, and the closing of F Street in 2008. I believe this acknowledgment of "EJ" should be part of the TIGER Grant and will strengthen your proposal.

Besides the obvious mention of the value of F Street access to billions in development at Symphony Park, you should also mention that NDOT saved $10-20 million from closing F Street in the first place.

Going back just to 1956, documents indicate that the City and State planned on putting I-15 through West Las Vegas to serve White businesses. The plan appears to have cost more than the two alternate routes which ran east of Downtown. It also displaced 200 African American families.

The City of Las Vegas and the State of Nevada closed streets in 1968, despite public protests. They planned to reopen the street only came after massive protests.

No later than 2006, NDOT was complicit in a plan to close F Street and the only direct access to billions in development at Symphony Park. The City has failed to provide information on who came up with the idea, although Molasky Development may have been involved as early as 2003. Molasky Development is also planning an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Building near the gateway to the Westside.

I also think you need to take a more active role in including young people, Latinos, and others who have been previously excluded in the F Street planning process. I mentioned some ideas to Chris Young today. For example, I believe children at West Prep and the Agassi Boys and Girls Club could be involved in learning about F Street and be taught about progressive planning. But perhaps that's a job we can't trust NDOT or the City to do without adequate community supervision.

Dahn Shaulis, Ph.D.

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