Many "get rich quick" schemes-from gold mining to gambling-have met their end in the hot sands of the Southern Nevada desert, and the latest appears to be a promise to make every resident in this town located 20 miles from Las Vegas a millionaire from sale of land to real estate developers.
Certainly, if the entire population of approximately 15,000 suddenly were to need a place to cash seven-figure checks, it would bode well for Boulder Dam Credit Union, the only credit union in town.
However, Bill Ferrence, the community credit union's manager, said the recent media reports of a move to sell the nearby 106,000-acre Eldorado Valley and disperse the proceeds among all Boulder City residents of record as of March 31, 2006, ignore reality.
"In the past few days, it was in papers all over the country, it was on MSNBC...it's a heck of a story, with absolutely no basis whatsoever," he declared.
According to Ferrence, Boulder Dam CU long has been a community gathering point "because we're the busiest place in town." Activities ranging from bake sales to petition drives take place in front of the credit union, although Ferrence said any political-related actions must be confined to the public sidewalk, rather than CU property.
In recent weeks, two petitions have been circulating in front of BDCU: the first completely banning development in Eldorado Valley; the second demanding sale of the land and distribution of money to the city's population. Residents here reportedly have been signing the latter petition, with the declared intention of having the future of the land parcel voted on in the November ballot. But Ferrence said there are too many problems for any sale to proceed.
"The only reason they are getting any signatures is people want their money," said Ferrence, a 32-year resident of Boulder City. "I have heard a lot of different amounts: the smallest is $1 million per person, up to $3.5 million each. The story is fun, although it makes Boulder City residents look like a bunch of hicks: expecting to make a million dollars for nothing."
The reasons the proposed sale won't work are part of a "long, complicated story," Ferrence said. He walked The Credit Union Journal through a brief history of Boulder City to explain why. The town was built in 1931 by the U.S. Government to house the workers building and operating Boulder Dam, which later was renamed Hoover Dam. In 1960, the federal government "wanted out of the town-running business," so it sold 33 square miles of land to the community. Boulder City now sits on five square miles of land in the original parcel.
In 1995, Boulder City purchased the 106,000-acre Eldorado Valley from the federal government to protect its borders from growth, he continued. "We have strict growth restrictions here, and unlike Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson-three of the 10 fastest growing cities in the U.S.-we are growing very slowly."
Shortly after the 1995 purchase, Clark County bought a 50-year lease on 85,000 acres in the Eldorado Valley to be used as a desert tortoise preserve. Ferrence said Clark County used this area as a credit so more land in the Las Vegas area could be developed. This environmentally restricted land probably will prevent any big sale, he added.
"Clark County would have to terminate the lease and therefore would lose its environmental credit, or the buyers would have to preserve the 85,000 acres for another 30 years. Another problem is: Boulder City's charter requires proceeds from any land sale to go into the capital improvements fund. So, distributing money to residents would require a charter change."
"I don't expect any of it to happen, because it would have to overcome too many hurdles," he concluded.