With the installation of a parking lot across from the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, Clark County has, finally, taken a step to prevent Viva Splat Vegas.
Two years ago I wrote a column for the Las Vegas Sun in which I spoke to John Woodrum about the seemingly endless stream of tourists who snap and pose for photos beneath the iconic sign. For more than 30 years Woodrum had a curbside seat (if there were a curb) for thousands of near-misses as folks strode, sprinted and waddled from his Klondike Hotel across Las Vegas Boulevard South to the famed visage (read that column here).
But today, it was officially announced that Clark County has broken ground on a 12-space parking lot abutting the east site of LV Boulevard and just south of the old Klondike structure. The lot will have 12 slots (two designated for handicapped parking) and a couple of spots reserved for busses. The project cost a little more than $400,000 and is to be finished by late November.
Woodrum owned and operated the Klondike from May 1976 until June 2006, when he sold it to Royal Palm Communities of Boca Raton, Fla., which paid $48 million for a hotel Woodrum bought from then-owner Ralph Engelstad for $1.2 million (for funding snags, the hotel parcel remains dormant, aside from dozens of homeless people who have used it for shelter).
Because of his catbird’s seat, for decades Woodrum’s hotel served as the lone parking area for the sign – when people bothered to actually use the lot, which was only occasionally. Silly tourists.
“It’s a thousand wonders that someone didn’t get killed out there,” Woodrum said from his current hotel, the Klondike Sunset Casino in Henderson. “I spent 30 years watching people run across the street, cars going past at 60 or 70 miles per hour. I mean, thousands would go by daily. I talked to the county many, many times about making some effort to build a parking lot. I think this started about 15 years ago. But the wheels run slow …” Government wheels, he means.