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Laughlin leaders hope lagoon will boost town's economy

LAS VEGAS - Laughlin community leaders are betting on a public works project to diversify the town's economy.

Clark County officials met with contractors to present the Laughlin Lagoon dredging project and solicit bids to do the work later this year. 

It's a public-private partnership -- fully funded with private money. Developers hope better access to the lagoon will spur economic development.

On the south end of laughlin, across from riverfront development in bullhead city, sits the quiet Laughlin Lagoon.

It's a shallow bay that should soon see an upgrade.

If all goes to plan, construction crews will clear the boating channels. It's something town leaders say is desperately needed.

The lagoon hasn't been dredged in nearly 20 years, and that's a problem because most boats can't freely come in and out of the channel and into the bay. Once the project is done, land will open up to both commercial and residential development.

"This is not just a Laughlin project, this is a Nevada project," said developer Bob Bilbray.

He says the project has been in the works for over a decade.

Dredging the waterway will allow for waterfront development and recreational access for locals and visitors alike.

All together, it's expected to provide an economic boon the small but growing town.

"I would expect immediately $50 to 60 million worth of increased tax base in the Laughlin township and in Nevada," Bilbray said.

County public works officials this week presented the project to prospective contractors. It's a $3 million project funded through a public-private partnership.

Mohave State Bank bought the bonds from the county to fund the project.

Property owners around the lagoon will repay the bank.

"There are so many opportunities for development in that immediate area, it's ridiculous, but for the Laughlin community, it means a lot," said Monica Hall, senior vp, Mohave State Bank.

The 150 to 220 thousand cubic yards of dirt that's pulled from the channel will be deposited on the south side of the lagoon opening the door for a public beach and possibly a regional park down the road.

The hope is that it brings development, dollars and recognition to Laughlin as something more than a gambling town.

"It's not just a little project to them, this is an opportunity to make things grow around here," said Republican state Sen. Joe Hardy, Clark County.

Due to federal laws, there's a four-month window to complete the work this coming fall. The county will pick the winning construction bid on May 18.


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