When Lydia Garrett speaks these days, the North Las Vegas City Council seems to listen.
It’s been a long time coming for Garrett, who serves as a sort of redevelopment hawk in residence at City Hall, scolding or lauding council votes on much-derided properties such as the Carey Arms and Buena Vista Springs apartment complexes near Carey Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Six years ago, the 42-year-old community activist and her husband Thomas co founded the nonprofit North Valley Leadership Team to help push forward some of those community rebuilding efforts.
Today, she’s beginning to see results.
Fresh off a July 3 City Hall appearance meant to thank council members for moving to demolish Buena Vista Springs’ condemned all-ages complex, Garrett found herself back in the council chambers Aug. 7, this time to dress down council members for living conditions at Buena Vista’s senior complex across the street.
Brows were furrowed across the council chamber, and plenty of promises were made to Garrett and neighborhood seniors in attendance.
Then, a day later, calls from state housing division officials overwhelmed members of Buena Vista’s resident council. Tenants reported appearances from multiple state health inspectors. Clark County officials, who residents claim they hadn’t seen in two years, also made their way to Buena Vista within a week.
It’s a start, Garrett said, but hers isn’t the type of work that just ends.
“We went down there with one fist and made a mighty blow,” Garrett said of residents’ appearance at the August City Council meeting. “It’s got a lot of momentum, and I’m really excited about that, but it isn’t over.
“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in our area.”
Garrett, who lives within blocks of her childhood home in North Las Vegas, said she takes it upon herself to highlight problems in North Valleys — the several square blocks of apartments and old housing the Leadership Team aims to redevelop between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Simmons Street.
Without her group, many seniors who live under the neighborhood’s 1,100 rooftops fear they would lose a dialogue with city officials.
Some said that without Garrett, they wouldn’t have a voice in the first place.
“I just want to thank you ladies for pushing these issues forward for us so we can have a better place to live than we have over the past two years,” Buena Vista Springs senior complex resident Ritchie Favors said at a Leadership Team meeting Aug. 10. “None of this would have happened without you.”
Fellow resident Alma Evans said she can’t imagine her neighborhood without Garrett’s team. Speaking in front of a Leadership Team meeting attended by North Las Vegas Community Outreach Manager Kathi Thomas-Gibson, City Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown and Ward 5 Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow, Evans made an important, if obvious, point: Garrett has a knack for getting big names to sit across the table from the little guy.
“I want to thank Mrs. Garrett, who’s been with us all the way from step one to where we are now,” Evans said. “Without the North Valley association people and (Councilwoman Goynes-Brown), we would not be here.
“Up until last week, it was all promises, promises, but now we’re at the top level, speaking with people in Carson City.”
The North Valley Leadership Team meets at 10 a.m. the second Saturday of each month at the Pearson Community Center, 1625 W. Carey Ave.
For more information on the group and its efforts, call Garrett at 702-413-3034.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3839.