Vegas' secret city
Are politicians plotting demise of low income
neighborhood to benefit rich developers?
Or is this "progress" Vegas style?
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 10, 2005
Buried behind the glitz of the intersection of the Strip and Sahara
Avenue lies one of Sin City's best kept secrets. Once known as the "Naked
City" because of its titillating 1960's reputation for being the haven
of nude sunbathing showgirls and hedonists, the neighborhood has taken
on a far different reputation of late.
(Click to enlarge)
Only steps away from the Stratosphere and Sahara hotels, prostitution,
drug sales, gang shootings and robberies now permeate the once peaceful
streets of Vegas' secret inner city. In the late 1980s, the City government
tried to change the area's image by giving it a new name: "Meadows Village,"
but the unfitting name didn't stick. Crime statistics continued climbing.
Then one of the local property owners took matters into his own hands.
Peter Christoff (Las
Vegas SUN photo)
Apartment owner Peter
Christoff began distributing fliers advising embattled residents how
to obtain a permit to carry concealed weapons for self defense. This caught
the attention of police and the media.
(Click to enlarge)
Then Christoff went a step further. He commissioned an satirical water
color painting by local artist Frank Insinga.
The painting entitled, "Thank you Mayor Goodman" was intended to emphasize
what Christoff calls "a lack of interest in improving this important corner
of our city; " an area best known as the location of our city's seediest
topless bar, and the unchecked crime it generates.
The cartoonesk painting is meant to graphically depict the severe problems
in the low income residential and industrial area that is inhabited mainly
by poor Hispanic families seeking the American Dream.
"How better to get the Mayor and Council's attention than to present
an accomplished artist's impression of the rampant crime just outside our
front doors." Christoff went on to say, "The residents of Meadows Village
are being ignored in favor of other areas of our city. Mayor Goodman is
concentrating on downtown and the new areas while hundreds of Meadows Village
children play in crime infested streets. We are a forgotten neighborhood."
Drug dealing on Meadows Village street
(Photo by Peter Christoff)
Meadows Village residents had long asked for a police substation in
their high crime area but only received lip service from Metro and City
of Las Vegas officials according to the 67 year old apartment manager.
"Maybe this embarrassing painting will finally get their attention," Christoff
said. "Maybe now they'll finally begin to realize that our little corner
of the city is in desperate need of help."
Christoff then began setting the stage for one of our city's most embarrassing
A well known, trusted, and respected citizen advocate since 1987, Christoff
used his reputation as the spokesperson for Meadows Village to ask that
a special presentation be scheduled at the next City Council meeting. The
City Clerk gladly agended an award presentation to take place at the beginning
of the meeting to present what Christoff said would be a "symbol of gratitude"
for the "good work the city is doing."
Following the July 15, 2002 Pledge of Allegiance, the Mayor and Council
stepped to the podium to receive Mr. Christoff's award. The award's content
was unbeknownst to any official other than it was an original painting
to be hung in City Hall.
Amid much Pomp and Circumstance, Mr. Christoff was invited to the podium
with his framed painting covered by a gold shroud. He placed it on an easel.
The Mayor presented him the microphone and Christoff thanked the public
officials for their much publicized efforts to clean up his neighborhood.
He then ceremoniously unveiled his masterpiece.
The Mayor and Councilmembers stepped forward to view the painting, and
stood aghast. One even tried to place the veil back over the painting,
but Mr. Christoff removed it entirely while he explained that the art work
depicted a current typical evening on the streets of his neighborhood,
and the dismal state of the City's efforts to stop the crime. Reporters
took notes as cameras flashed.
He then thanked the officials for "doing nothing" to eradicate the problems,
turned and walked out of the Council chambers.
During the next three years, crime worsened in Meadows Village while
property values mysteriously skyrocketed, some believe based on the neighborhood's
close proximity to the new Wynn
resort, and future developments by Donald
Trump and others.
Because of this, it almost appears the Mayor and Council are participating
in an orchestrated
scheme to further blight the area so it can soon be condemned
the City's power of Eminent Domain, then sold under market value
to politically connected developers with plans to turn Meadows Village
back into a "Naked City," but this time a place full of vacationing fun
seekers frolicking in plush resorts and high rise condos replacing what
once was a secret neighborhood full of false hopes and promises.
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