By Margaret McKinney
Members of the New Mexico Highlands University women’s basketball team and their coaches rolled up their sleeves last month and went to work painting a historic commercial building on Railroad Avenue, a MainStreet de Las Vegas Façade Squad project.
“We hope that painting this building at 433 Railroad Ave. will help find a buyer for it so we don’t lose another historic building,” said Cindy Collins, executive director for MainStreet. “This building is in a key location next to the visitor center in the restored train depot. We’d like to see a creative commercial reuse of this building.”
Collins said Façade Squad works to revitalize downtown commercial buildings to attract more local customers and visitors. She said Façade Squad also preserves the history and culture of Las Vegas, and builds community pride.
The Railroad building is the tenth commercial structure in Las Vegas painted through Façade Squad. Collins said that at 7,500-square-feet, it’s the largest and most ambitious project to date.
“This painting project was an opportunity to see the beauty and transformation of this historic building through a fresh coat of paint, and our collective effort,” said Tiffany Darling, head women’s basketball coach.
“Servant leadership is one of our core covenants in our program and we think it’s very important to give back to the community.”
All 21 of Darling’s players hoisted paint rollers, grabbed paintbrushes, and scrambled up scaffolding on Sept. 24. They completed the painting project in one day. MainStreet board members also lent a hand.
“These young women are hard workers who arrived with smiles on their faces and immediately asked for paint brushes,” Collins said. “We’re immensely grateful for Highlands’ ongoing partnership in Façade Squad through its athletic teams and their coaches.”
She said Highlands’ teams have worked on all four Facade Squads, including women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s track, football and rodeo.
Trish Simpson, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice with a minor in chemistry, worked alongside her basketball teammates to paint the building on Railroad.
“Community service is important and it’s nice to help out,” said Simpson, who hails from El Paso, Texas. “We’re happy to be painting and restoring this historic building. We heard that one idea is for it to become a bowling alley. That would be cool.”
Collins said that for this Facade Squad, extra Highlands’ help came from Jorden Grimm, operations and capital projects operations manager in Facility Services. He was the team captain for the project, and also brought ladders, scaffolding, tools, and a recycling bin to the site.
Grimm serves on MainStreet’s design committee.
The Bank of Las Vegas is the major sponsor for Facade Squad, donating $5,000 for paint and other supplies. JC’s New York Pizza provided lunch for the volunteers, and BTU gave discounts on paint, paintbrushes, other supplies and the generator.