Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 | 2 a.m.
North Las Vegas Councilman Robert Eliason stuck to the script as he addressed his ward at a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
About 20 people gathered inside Lincoln Elementary cafeteria as Eliason discussed the city’s efforts to accomplish its five-pronged, five-year plan. Beginning with Mayor Shari Buck’s town meeting on July 11, each council member has addressed his or her ward with a similar presentation.
Eliason said the goal of the unified message was to make sure residents know the city is moving forward. Since June, the city has declared a state of financial emergency and enforced cuts to help close a $30.9 million budget gap. Those included limiting overtime hours for firefighters, closing the North Las Vegas Detention Center and cutting back on several city services.
Eliason, who represents Ward 1, was the last to hold a meeting. Aside from varying a few words, he sounded a lot like his colleagues.
Eliason said what was particularly important was “keeping the citizenry informed of where we’re at, and making sure that with some of the fear factors put out by organized labor folks, people know we’re OK.” He also said it was crucial to "correct (misinformation) so people feel better about our city.”
For 30 minutes, Eliason touched on various city efforts to accomplish its plan to grow the economy, create a financially sustainable government, establish a distinctive identity, enhance the city's beauty and public safety, and upgrade its infrastructure.
He spoke about the "buy local" campaign to encourage local business growth as well as the establishment of new restaurants such as Farmer Boys. He touted the near completion of the first phase of the North 5th Street project to relieve road congestion and other road projects meant to improve traffic. He also confirmed that the 150-acre Craig Ranch Regional Park was still slated to open the summer of 2013.
“I know many of you have heard negative news,” Eliason said in the presentation. “But we’re doing a lot of good work.”
North Las Vegas resident Rita Langford felt optimistic about the city after the meeting. She’s been entrenched in the city for the past 16 years. She serves on the library board, goes to church in the city and has family nearby. She was pleased to hear that the city refrained from firing any emergency service personnel and that it plans to open Craig Ranch Park.
“I like North Las Vegas,” Langford said. “We’ve had our difficulties, but I believe the people in authority are working to correct these things.”
Frank Azbell also expressed optimism after the meeting. He was thrilled to hear about the public works awards the city hall and water reclamation facility have won.
Still, not everyone was optimistic; Annie Ballance remained skeptical. While Eliason and other city officials were available for conversations after the meeting, she wanted more details, more group discussion and less presentation.
“He didn’t go into depth. What’s on the horizon?” Ballance said. “That’s a pretty hefty plan.”