LAS VEGAS -- One of the oldest communities in the Las Vegas valley has seen many changes and experienced a decline since its glory days during the last century.
Even so, historic west Las Vegas is still home to many people who love it.
Located in the present day in a central portion of the valley, its name stems from when it was west of the railroad tracks in the mid-1900's.
Today, the area is known for its blight, casting a dark shadow that was home to the valley's first black residents.
"There's a level of distrust that's happening in our community," said Cedric Crear, a west Las Vegas resident.
Few are shocked when a drug bust or shooting strikes this predominantly black community.
Though located in unincorporated Clark County, it is still commonly called west Las Vegas."
The crime has devalued the area.
But the reality is, like any community, all types of people live in west Las Vegas, such as Crear and Dorothy Cooper.
"Sometimes that stigmatism of where they live will haunt them," Cooper said. "I live … next to the Salvation Army and I know from the outside the appearances are like, wow; that's homelessness, but it's not."
Crear is on the Board of Regents and his wife is an environmental biologist.
"My wife and I are living proof that you can go out and you can work hard and be successful," he said.
The couple lives in Bonanza Village where homeowners made lavish investments into their homes.
Not far from Crear, Cooper lives in a form of subsidized housing that helps people struggling to find a permanent home and job.
"It's a nice community," she said. "It's very quiet. It's very peaceful."
Living only minutes apart, Cooper and Crear have different lifestyles, but share an unbreakable bond: a love for where they live.
"This is a tight community," Cooper said. "This is family. They watch out for one another and you could feel the warmth."
Added Crear, "You just don't push the garage door and pull into your house and close the garage door. People know each other."
They said the area has been given a black eye, making it tough for big business owners such as John Edmund to attract new retail stores.
"About 45,000-square foot of vacancies -- commercial vacancies -- for retail tenants," said Edmond, who owns Edmond Town Center.
Edmond said most people don't consider west Las Vegas a destination point, but a place to pass through, a reality that he said must change.
"Either there's going to be something that would bring people over here … or there's got to be some kind of plan to create the housing in the area," he said.
Crear, an advocate for education, said bigger investments are essential, especially for older communities like his, which he said is growing at a snail's pace.
"Not fast enough, but it is slowly happening," Crear said.
Examples of growth and progress include the beautification of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and D Street, the new Aldene Kline Barlow Senior Apartments building with 86 units, the reopening of F Street creating walkable downtown access and the $10 million historical Westside School rehabilitation.
The reality is change is here.
Cooper said she hopes the actions of a few criminals haven't crucified her community as a whole.
"It's not what you see on the streets," she said. "You can feel the sincerity of people in this community when you come through here."
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