To oldtimers, it’s known as Tule Springs, a labyrinth of fishing holes, fossil beds, and wildlife habitats on the northwest edge of the valley.
Today it’s known as Floyd Lamb Park, and residents who live near it fear a plan to hold weddings and other private parties there will spoil the rural ambiance of the park and their neighborhoods. And they allege Councilwoman Michele Fiore is pushing the effort to benefit her daughter, an event planner.
The renovation of the park’s historic haybarn would increase occupancy from 15 to 500, according to a study commissioned by the city. The city is also installing a prefabricated gazebo, and constructing a 3,000 square foot building with a kitchen, restrooms, and private waiting quarters for brides and grooms.
Fiore, whose campaign to renovate the haybarn has been hailed by city officials at public meetings and was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, did not respond to requests for comment.
The multimillion-dollar park project is being paid for with a mix of public funds and donations, primarily from Fiore campaign contributors such as Laborers Local 872.
In recognition of the contributions, fees to use the facility will be waived up to $2,100 for donors. A city spokesman says the fee to use the facility has not been decided.
The city’s website describes the park as “a welcome oasis with its 680-acre park with wildlife, lush vegetation, lakes and views of the Sheep and Spring Mountain Ranges. The historic Tule Springs Ranch is tucked inside the park and provides opportunities for visitors to learn about the traditional working ranch and early Las Vegas lifestyle.”
A flier distributed this weekend at the park is titled “Fiore’s Assault on Floyd Lamb Park” and depicts Fiore in an evening gown, toting a firearm pointed at wildlife.
“Why is she doing it?” asks the flier from Save Floyd Lamb Park Action Group. “Is it because her daughter, Sheena Siegal, owner of Hamlet Events will benefit from having an event center in Floyd Lamb Park (FLP)?”
Fiore’s daughter, Sheena Siegal, hung up on the Current when asked about the group’s allegations that the project is meant to benefit her company, Hamlet Events.
Hamlet Events does not hold a City of Las Vegas or Clark County business license, according to government records.
In January, the Nevada Independent reported Fiore’s campaign paid her daughter’s company $109,000 during the span of a year and a half for advertising and events.
Nevada law prohibits candidates from using campaign funds for personal use but allows payment to family members for professional services.
The flier alleges Fiore “made a unilateral decision without public input.” It says the project is in “direct opposition” to the city’s master plan, and violates the 2003 legislation that transferred the park from the state to the city, which called for “passive recreation” only.
Passive recreation is defined by the National Recreation and Park Association as “activities that do not require prepared facilities like sports fields or pavilions. Passive recreational activities place minimal stress on a site’s resources; as a result, they can provide ecosystem service benefits and are highly compatible with natural resource protection.”
“I do not think the Mayor and other City Council members were made aware of the 2007 FLP Master Park Plan, SB 444, or the deed restrictions put in place on the Quitclaim deed,” says Karen Livingston, who lives adjacent to the park and organized the opposition.
The haybarn is being reclassified from a utility storage function to an Assembly Occupancy space.
“This may be classified as an A-2 Assembly which includes a nightclub or dining use,” says a Change of Occupancy study submitted to the council. “In this case the occupancy load may increase from around 15 persons to as many as 500 occupants.”
Residents say they fear the plan will increase traffic, noise, and lighting “with no idea on how it will impact the environment and the wildlife within the park.”
“We are concerned the event center will allow activities to go on beyond the closing hours of the park (sunrise to sunset),” the neighbors said in a statement to the Current.
“Not one person I have spoken to in our Next Door Action Group have (sic) voiced anything but approval for the renovations to the haybarn that will insure it’s (sic) structural integrity for years to come,” Livingston told Fiore and staff in an email. “Our concern is the use of the haybarn and all of the additional ancillary buildings and lighting that is being planned, and the impact this will have in altering the passive rural character of the Park.”
Livingston says Fiore and staff have repeatedly been untruthful with the residents.
“I had hoped that Fiore and her staff would adhere to the highest standard of integrity and honesty” in dealings with the public, Livingston said in the email to the councilwoman and staff, adding they had “destroyed any trust we had in Councilwoman Fiore and have affected the trust and confidence we have in all City of Las Vegas elected government officials.”
‘We are concerned that the event center’s private parties will allow alcohol, and loud music to blast into the wee hours of the morning,” the group said. “The excessive lighting that is required to light the new planned parking lot, walkways, and the area around the historic haybarn is in direct opposition to the 2007 FLP Master Plan.”
They say Fiore, who represents Ward 6, failed to hold meetings to “garner feedback and input from the public” before the council approved the project.
In a statement to the Current, the city said the project “is NOT a new concept” and notes the necessity to renovate “historical assets dates back to 1977” when the park was still under state control.
The city says a 1978 development agreement “earmarked” the haybarn as an events center.
“In addition to preserving the past, this park must look to the future,” the agreement says. “State recommends active, urban-oriented park development when, and if, regional growth demands it. When FLP State Park finds itself in an urban neighborhood, this Division must be prepared to work with local recreation providers to plan and develop a park that can meet regional needs. With this development, the park will change from primarily a historic park, to that of a multi-use facility.”
Tule Springs became a city park in 1964. In 1977 the state assumed control from the financially-strapped municipality and the park was named for State Senator Floyd Lamb. In 2003, state lawmakers voted to return control of the park to the city.
The neighbors have a protest planned for May 23 when Fiore is scheduled to open the park’s bike paths.