LAUGHLIN — The Clark County Board of County Commissioners recently settled on a figure of roughly $3.97 million for Laughlin’s Community Development Block Grant, about $700,000 less than had previously been recommend for upgrades at Spirit Mountain Activity Center in Laughlin.
The funds will bring multiple upgrades the center, which currently houses the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River’s Laughlin branch and the Laughlin Senior Center and to turn it into a “multi-generational” center for all Laughlin residents to use and enjoy.
The Clark County Commission governs and runs Clark County, providing services to the unincorporated areas. Laughlin’s district representative on that body — Michael Naft — went to bat for Laughlin alongside the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department to make it happen.
The 30-member Laughlin Community Development Advisory Committee, led by members Robert Bilbray and Cheryl Crow, went to the commission for Laughlin to acquire some of the $28.5 million that the commission had to disperse for county improvements. They had originally sought $7,564,092, which included a new gymnasium and other amenities for the existing activity center in Mountain View Park. Their efforts yielded the highest single-funded application countywide, originally recommended last January at $4,670,399, or 16.37% of the county’s total available funds.
The Community Development Block Grant the county “recommended to award” back in January, although not the total amount sought by Laughlin, still was substantial and would have allowed for a scaled-down version of the original plan created by the committee, Town Manager Brian Paulson and then-Clark County Parks and Recreation supervisor for Laughlin Richard DeClercq, all of whom worked together on the design of the upgrades and planning for the grant.
The local parties all set about restructuring their plans from the original to fit the amount of the actual grant when the county recommended it in January. They did that in a very timely manner and made changes that would allow for private funding to be utilized to complete the original plan which had a budget of just over $7.5 million including the new gymnasium and many other amenities and upgrades to the existing center.
Then during its regular meeting May 5 — with none of the Laughlin CDAC members present — the commission awarded the township $3,970,399. The “Option B” recommended funds have caused the local entities to scrap their original plans altogether as the amount of private funding required is now too high for realistic expectations, but the collective parties involved have gone back to the design board and are putting together a new plan, one that benefits the center and township to the fullest extent but in a smaller way than originally planned.
The amount of the award was announced at a Laughlin Town Advisory Board meeting June 10. All of the local parties involved in the original planning and award application process expressed some disappointment about the final amount recommendation including the CDAC, town manager, and the LTAB. However, the amount settled upon by the commission was still the largest award of all applicants which Naft stated he was proud of his district receiving. The funding is projected over the five years of the capital plan but Laughlin is hoping to get their funds up front to move forward with a revamped, smaller version of the Multi-Gen Center.
Naft said that he was “grateful to the CDAC and community for the work they put in” to the application and process, adding, “I’m really proud my district got more money than any other.”
“I’m excited to see what the community will do with the money,” he said.
Also at Spirit Mountain, deClercq has transferred to Las Vegas and has been replaced in title by new South County Sup. Shelly Gulotta. She reportedly will not be operating out of Laughlin but instead out of Las Vegas and local Parks and Recreation staffer A’lonn Bilbray will be handling the day-to-day operations in Laughlin.
The Boys & Girls Clubs Laughlin branch reopened June 8, while the Senior Center remains closed .
The county is “working through” the process of reinstating part-time staff who will be trained for COVID-19 practices, allowing for the opening of the Laughlin Aquatic Park which has been shuttered all year and remains so as well as recreation programs which have not returned since the pandemic began several months ago.