KayLynn Roberts-McMurray photo
Some of the corrals operated by the City of Ely have reached a state of disrepair and have been the subject of complaints.

The Ely Times

The City of Ely corrals, tucked away in a part of town that you would think isn’t seen by many,  but in reality is seen by many who are traveling to go to work at the prison, their homes in Cross Timbers, or the tourists who are riding the Nevada Northern Railway train excursion.

The view?

Several corrals full of weeds, some as tall as 3 feet, homemade utility trailers with househould trash and a public arena lined with weeds.

Several corrals are clean and maintained, and for those who keep their corrals clean, they are frustrated and tired of it and they want something done.

So who is responsible? Some would say the City of Ely and some would say that the Ely City Corral Association is as well.

Jen Trice, the current president of the Ely City Corral Association, said the association has not had a meeting in over a year, due to some health issues. Trice also noted that the vice president, treasurer and corral boss are all open positions due to members of the association moving away, and some too tired and frustrated to want to  enforce bylaws, when there isn’t any type of consequence.

Could it be that the city increased the yearly lease fee by four times in four years?

In 2016, the city council approved raising the yearly lease fee, that originally was $60 that went to $120 a year to $180 in 2017 and is now $240 a year increasing it by four times the amount in four years.

Several representatives from the corral association appeared at the meeting in 2016 to ask the city to reconsider, and they even went as far as retaining Scott Husbands, a local attorney at the time, to represent the association. Husbands said then, “The corral association has asked us to help them, we know it’s on here tonight to propose to increase the rates. The rate increase, I don’t know what the council is going to do, but anytime you propose an increase, maintenance improvements are requested, I have a laundry list of what they’d like the city to address.”

Several leasees spoke during the meeting talking about the work they have done in the arena area such as Mr. Linskey, “I’ve been taking care of the arena even though it’s the city’s responsibility. We’ve had horses go down because the arena  was so bad.”

Councilman Bruce Setterstrom at the time said, “I do want to make a couple of things clear, last fiscal year, we gave the corral association $3,000 we spent $1,800 on gravel and a sign, and that doesn’t include removing manure, not including labor in those figures.”

CIty Admnistrator Robert Switzer also commented “If I may, in doing an analysis it is about what were collecting right now, what were taking in versus what were spending, we’re short, whenever we reach out and do projects.

“The idea about raising the lease rate to 180 to re-coup the costs and consider some of the legitimate concerns they have. I just know the council brought me on board to help our city become more efficient where we can, and recoup costs where we can and were revisiting throughout our organization in which we can save money, or recover costs where we can.”  In the end, the city approved the resolution. “

In this resolution it also included in order to cover costs for the city’s maintenance of the city corrals and other city parks, recreational facilities and tourism facilities in the city they must increase the lease fee.

It’s been estimated since 2016 with the numbers of corrals that have been leased out according to the city, and the increase in fees over the years, that the city has collected more than $27,000.

What maintenance has been done by the city and how much has been spent towards maintenance of the city corrals?

Switzer explained that roofing on the crow’s nest was discussed with association members and the council liaison in 2016, along with replacement and refurbishing of the two latrines located on the premises.

The city currently has roofing material for the crow’s nest and is trying to schedule repairs pending availability with a City crew. A new stop sign was also installed in 2016.

City crews remove snow from the roads and try to grade them at least once each year. Additionally, the landfill crew removes accumulated manure about every other month and hauls for disposal at the landfill. But is that enough? When more revenue is coming in for leasee’s?

Switzer also commented,  “There has been three changes in leadership within the association to my understanding since 2015. In the past, to my understanding as well, the association maintained a strong presence within the corral community, collected association fees or dues, and to a great extent the city relied on the association to monitor member activities at the corrals and to take on improvement projects.

“Although there are pressing issues with the corrals, the city has been for the past year, watching expenditures in an attempt to increase its ending fund balance for the general fund.”

Several people who currently lease a corral or several corrals from the city were uncomfortable talking about the subject. Many didn’t want their names included for fear of their animals being harmed if they spoke up and said anything.

One person reported that a few  years ago during a severe snowstorm the city did not plow the roads that lead into the corral areas, and people had to park and walk through chest deep snow to get to their animals to feed them

With so many issues at the corrals, it’s hard to decide what should be addressed first, but it is clear on one thing, the weeds could potentially be a fire hazard. A horse in one of the corrals looked underweigh and appeared to be unhealthy.  These are things a corral boss according to the associations’ bylaws, would take responsibility in monitoring and reporting to the city and association’s board members.  But, there is no corral boss.

The city is the lessor of the property, and there are several corrals that appear to be vacant. When asked if the city is responsible for these specific corrals, Switzer confirmed in an email, “the city would be responsible for clearing weeds from vacant corral spaces.”

Mayor Melody VanCamp said, “I have had people reach out to me with complaints and concerns, and this is one more item that needs to be addressed.”