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Las Vegas, Clark County plan park to honor Historic Westside leaders

Officials in Las Vegas and Clark County are working together to establish a multimillion-dollar park that commemorates the luminaries of the city’s Historic Westside, known for early settlers and a storied African American culture.

The partnership plans to bring the $3.5 million project, dubbed the Historic Westside Leaders Park, to land near the southwest corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Lake Mead boulevards, according to city and county documents.

The City Council and Clark County Commission recently signed off separately on an interlocal agreement between the two entities. Under the deal, the county will allocate no more than $3.5 million to design and construct the park on about two acres of city-owned land.

But the city will operate and maintain it while managing the design and construction phase, according to a copy of the agreement. Construction is set to begin by December 2020 and finish by December 2021.

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly and Councilman Cedric Crear represent District D and Ward 5, respectively, where the park is planned.

“You think about the pioneers and those who had come before people like Cedric and I that helped make this possible, what we’re doing today, (and) it’s only befitting that we could try to help preserve the legacy of this community,” Weekly said.

The Historic Westside, just northwest of downtown, is home to the city’s first business and residential development, McWilliams Townsite, built in 1905. By the 1940s and 1950s, the Jackson Avenue entertainment district was its epicenter, bustling with nightclubs that hosted legendary entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole. The neighborhood hasremained the pulse of the city’s African-American community in the face of decades-long economic development struggles.

Project details will likely be revealed during the design phase and through neighborhood meetings expected to collect public input. The city and county will identify a “Hall of Fame” committee to choose and approve people who will be recognized by placards, monuments or other features of the park, according to the agreement.

The city will pay for the plaques and monuments inside the park, including those requested by the county, the agreement shows.

Weekly, a former Las Vegas councilman, said he envisions Historic Westside Leaders Park as a place of tranquility and education, and he hoped that visitors will walk away with a singular conclusion: “What a great tribute.”

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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