‘We’re not going away’

The loud talkers who have been overheard threatening them with physical harm refer to them as “the heavyset black guy and the white guy that drives the Hummer,” says Earl White, who manages Walt Walters’ security and property management companies. “I was kind of disappointed because I’ve been losing weight.”

Mr. Walters owns three apartment buildings, including one being remodeled for senior housing, in the Meadows Village-Naked City neighborhood, which partially encircles the Stratosphere Tower near Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. The neighborhood has long been known as a local go-to place for drugs and prostitutes.

The pair first installed bright construction lights to illuminate their buildings at night — and then retained security guards to guard the lights. They also walk the neighborhood, setting an example of fearlessness in the face of the lowlife element.

The pair have plans to add lights in other parts of the neighborhood with the help of the Stratosphere and the Allure condominium tower.

Neighboring property owners, liking what they see, have subsequently hired Mr. Walters’ company to watch their buildings as well. Taking on such properties usually means clearing out squatters and dealing with years of neglect.

The campaign appears to be making progress. Authorities say many of the illicit goings-on along Tam Drive have been forced to relocate.

“They have the blessing of the Police Department,” explains Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese, whose ward includes the area, now optimistically re-dubbed the “Gateway neighborhood.”

And though the increased scrutiny in one area moves criminal activity without stopping it altogether, it’s still worthwhile, says Deputy Chief Gary Scofield of the Metropolitan Police Department.

“When a neighborhood doesn’t take care of itself, people find it acceptable for certain things to occur,” Mr. Scofield said. “The community has to be involved in the effort. They’re setting the norms.”

The majority of residents in any neighborhood want the same things — peaceful enjoyment of their properties, a chance to upgrade their circumstances without being afraid to venture out of doors after dark.

The needed catalyst is someone with the courage and resources to set an example. In this small slice of town, that catalyst has been Walt Walters and Earl White, who deserve a vote of thanks for their efforts.

“We’re not going away,” says Mr. Walters. “We’re going to be a pain in the ass until it’s over.”

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