Art Way name change tabled while heads cool

The Arts Factory at Charleston Boulevard and Art Way.

There is but one certainty in the ongoing saga of Art Way vs. Joyce Straus Way: All the name calling, finger pointing and veiled threats in the world will likely not change the opinions of the opposing parties.

So divisive is Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin’s proposal to change the name of the Arts District street Art Way to memorialize longtime artist and educator Joyce Straus, that the Planning Commission voted Tuesday to delay the agenda item for 30 days.

The decision came after a June 28 Weekly story generated heated dialogue, which led to a special July 8 meeting between the 18b Las Vegas Arts District Neighborhood Association, area businesses and Straus’ daughter-in-law Heidi Sarno Straus, who says she was caught off guard by the opposition to the name change. “She was a mentor to so many,” Sarno Straus says of Joyce Straus, who died in March. “I was expecting a hero’s welcome and planning a fabulous party in the neighborhood for the dedication.”

That fell flat when she reached out to Arts Factory owner Wes Myles, who vehemently opposed the change. Myles, who lists his Bar + Bistro at Art Way and Charleston Boulevard, says changing the name will hurt him financially. Additionally, he and others argue that Art Way helps brand the area as arts-centric.

More than 240 letters supporting the change to Joyce Straus Way were sent to the city, but business owners in opposition to that change gathered signatures at First Friday. The 18b Neighborhood Association, which initially supported the change, decided this week to stay neutral.

The small access street from Casino Center Boulevard to the Arts Factory was named Art Way three years ago when the Regional Transportation Commission launched its ACE Gold Line, a project that came with major street renovations and enhancements on Casino Center Boulevard.

Suggested compromises at the July 8 meeting included changing the name of Boulder Avenue, rather than Art Way, or merging the names so that the street would be Joyce Straus Art Way, but neither party agreed to those suggestions.

For now, it’s up in the air. “She would not want us to go forward,” Sarno Straus says. “Joyce wouldn’t want to be somewhere she’s not wanted, and she’d never want to hurt anyone’s business.”

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