Wade Robison and Thomas Bath had to hurdle their way up through a small opening at the top of a staircase. Located above the old city fire department garage attached to the former City Hall building was an attic sized crawl space that hadn’t been used in years.

The dusty room was one of many that Robison, Bath, and the rest of the Committee to Renovate City Hall saw on Aug. 20 as part of a full walk-though of the building. Accompanying the group was James Bertolini from the State Historic Preservation Office. According to Bertolini, a walk-through was the first step toward getting the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a goal of the committee’s.

“The Nevada SHPO has a two-fold role in visiting and evaluating the City Hall building. First, since the City has expressed interest in listing the building in the National Register, my visit was to evaluate the building’s eligibility for the Register and provide guidance as to what a nomination should include in order to be successfully listed in the National Register,” Bertolini said via email after his visit. “After review, our office does consider the building eligible for the National Register, and will provide the City with guidance should they choose to move a nomination forward. “

Bath, an architect who had previously been hired by the City Council to present potential uses and layouts of the space inside the nearly 100-year-old building, said that he wants to make sure the committee and the current council continue their progress with the renovation efforts. But he cautions them to make sure things are done right.

“In weighing the options for which direction to take the City’s long-term facility plans, it’s the responsibility of the City Government to consider a triple bottom line. Of course there’s the typical bottom line, the up-front cost of the project in dollars and cents.  The two other important factors, that aren’t always considered in facility improvement projects such as this one are:  the long-term maintenance and replacement costs of the project, and the effect that the project has on the spirit of the Community.  Being not as easy to quantify, these other two bottom lines are easily overlooked, but still play a tremendous role in the outcome of a project like this.  I challenge the City Council and Mayor to keep the whole picture in their purview while determining the direction for City Hall.

Robison alongside other members of the committee are planning a presentation to give to the City Council at the next meting on Aug. 26. The council previously rejected the committee’s agenda item asking for $30,000 to hire an architect to help with the projects designs, though they did approve the money to be spent on a structural engineer to examine the safety and structure of the building.

City of Ely Mayor Melody Van Camp said that she hopes to have the renovations done in time for the building’s 100th anniversary in 2018. Van Camp said that she likes the idea of having a community event inside the new building in 2018 to celebrate it’s history and show off its new design.

(Garrett Estrada photo) Wade Robison ducks to move through a crawlspace above the old Fire Department garage in the former City Hall building.

(Garrett Estrada photo)
Wade Robison ducks to move through a crawlspace above the old Fire Department garage in the former City Hall building.