LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A federal program is working to create an agricultural park and food co-op in Las Vegas’ Historic Westside community, but there is some controversy about the location.
The “Local Foods, Local Places” program is a federal partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One of its main goals is to combat food insecurity.
James Gay Park, which is located on the eastern edge of the community, was one of 13 spots selected nationwide for the program.
Community organizers tell 8 News Now there are better options.
“I remember what it was like to be in my neighborhood with kids who were hungry,” said TaShika Lawson, founder of Historic Westside Revitalization.
Food insecurity is a big issue in the Westside community. The new program’s goal is to grow, prepare and sell food in that space to the people who live in the area.
“I love the idea of having an actual food co-op in our neighborhood,” Lawson said.
But she has concerns over choosing James Gay Park as the location.
“I don’t think that you should have to take an actual asset like this park from this community to be able to give food security,” Lawson said.
She believes the park should re-open as a place for kids to play and wants to see the co-op replace what she describes as a troubled grocery store in the area. Lawson also says the agricultural park and co-op could even be built on current empty lots.
“We have vacant land, like literally right across the street,” she said.
Other community organizers agree. Still, they are happy some progress is being made, and they hope it is a springboard to address other issues in the area.
“We need businesses over here. We need to help these people with these houses,” stressed Greg Freeman, president of Historical Westside Affairs. “We need to get these abandoned lots cleaned up.”
Organizers add they just want to be part of the process in making these kinds of decisions for the Historic Westside.
“I commend the city’s effort, I just wish they were doing it more sensitively,” Lawson said.
The EPA adds that the agricultural park and co-op on the Westside will also include an education center and an outdoor community area. There is no exact timeline yet for when the project will break ground.