Reimagined James Gay III Park
In the development of the HUNDRED PLAN (Historic Urban Neighborhood Design Redevelopment) Plan for the Historic Westside, the community described their frustration over the closing of James Gay III Park. Reimagining the park with the public’s input will create a thriving, vibrant space for the community.
The park was named after James Arthur Gay III, one of the best-known and most-admired local black leaders of his generation who played a fundamental role in desegregating the Las Vegas Strip, among other things. He died in 1999.
The reopening and activation of the park is a critical element to supporting the community and culture of the Historic Westside. The strategy for a reimagined James Gay III Park envisions a focus on health, recreation, economic development, community-building and an opportunity to establish the Historic Westside as a resilient and sustainable community.
Currently, James Gay III Park is home to a playground and activity area, skate park and basketball courts. Some of those elements are proposed to remain, while other community amenities will be refreshed and added to, including the addition of a plaza for events.
Plans for the opening of two 40-foot shipping containers at James Gay Park, between Harrison Avenue and B Street, that will grow fresh produce for residents of the Historic Westside are under way. The containers were installed in December 2022 and the first crops were planted in January 2023.
MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) recently provided a $500,000 philanthropic contribution to the city of Las Vegas, via the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE and its fiscal agent, Nevada Community Foundation, Inc. to acquire the two ready-built, plug-and-play container growing facilities. The shipping containers (manufactured by Freight Farms in Boston) are climate-controlled and can operate year-round, providing approximately 320 square feet of growing space, and producing the output of nearly 3.5 acres of flat farming each, or eight tons of produce. The containers provide diversified crop production capability – their systems can grow lettuce, leafy greens, herbs, vining berries and vegetables, rooted vegetables and flowers, allowing for the growth of produce that is needed and desired by Historic Westside residents. The containers were installed in December 2022 and the first crop has been planted.
The city is in the process of hiring urban farmers who will manage, plant, harvest and package the crops. The first crop will be planted by January 2023, after the on-site training. The city is working with a partner to finalize a plan to distribute the fresh produce to Historic Westside residents once the containers are operational. In the long term, the co-operative market will be the distribution point for the produce grown.
These projects were informed by the HUNDRED PLAN (Historic Urban Neighborhood Design Redevelopment) for the Historic Westside, which was developed in 2016 as a plan for community-led investment in the Historic Westside. One of the priorities established in the plan was to reopen James Gay Park, which has been closed for many years, with diverse community-serving uses.
At a recent council meeting, the council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city of Las Vegas and Vertical Harvest, Inc. to explore the development of a vertical urban farm and potential affordable housing on a portion of James Gay Park between Harrison Avenue and B Street. The MOU will allow Vertical Harvest, Inc. the ability to conduct a feasibility analysis to develop a 70,000 square foot vertical farm with the potential for auxiliary affordable housing and parking on approximately 2 acres on the north end of James Gay Park in the Historic Westside.
Vertical farming involves the growing of crops in many layers, one above the other, inside a building or under the ground, often in a specially controlled environment. Vertical farming increases food supply without using more land, and cuts down on food transportation costs by putting food within city limits. The vertical farm would create food and jobs that would directly benefit the Historic Westside community. The strategies to be explored in the MOU with Vertical Harvest, Inc. include:
● Establishing sustainable development programs that drive social, environmental, and economic impact in the Historic Westside
● Creating meaningful employment for under-employed segments at livable wages
● Gaining government support at all levels to secure grants, public financing, and incentives to further attract and catalyze growth
● Creating opportunities for local and minority-owned firms and subcontractors to take part in development projects.
View the rendering of the finished urban farm project.
What Should We Grow in the Historic Westside?
As we plan for food production in James Gay Park, we want to hear from Historic Westside neighbors on the type of produce you would most like to eat. The Urban Farm can grow many types of produce, and we invite you to take this brief survey to share your thoughts on what you would benefit from the most.
Frequently asked questions
Why a co-operative market and urban farm?
Historic Westside residents experience 25.5 percent food insecurity, the highest in the Las Vegas valley, and 45 percent of residents are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Public schools participate in the free lunch program, and 98 percent or more of the students in that area are eligible. The absence of any full-service grocery store, market or restaurant operating within the neighborhood means access to healthy food is extremely limited. There are currently seven food pantries operating within the boundaries of the Historic Westside neighborhood, all of them with varied operating hours, and limited access to healthy food options.
What is a co-operative market?
Co-operative markets are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Some of the guidelines established for co-operative markets, include:
- Voluntary and open membership;
- Managed by the members who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions;
- Economic participation from all members;
- Education and training provided for members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives;
- Policies are approved by members.
What about the existing grocery stores?
The co-operative grocery store is not a competitor to existing resources. It is filling a niche that has been nearly void for many years. The urban farm will enhance offerings to the public. At the same time the city is helping existing stores expand. For example, Mario’s Market was recently awarded $1 million in city of Las Vegas ARPA funding.