The Ely Times

The Ely City Council’s meeting moved quickly through agenda items at last week’s meeting.

The city council approved resolution 2018-04 to oppose Question 3.

Councilwoman Jolene Gardner requested an agenda item to approve spending up to $25,000 from the Capital Projects Fund for curb and gutter improvements at Center and East 7th street.

City Engineer BJ Almberg stood before the council to explain the agenda item better.

“Some questions came about of possible repair issues, sidewalks, curb and gutters that are degraded and this came back as a location of one of my suggestions,” he said.

Almberg went on to explain that this area has fairly new pavement and there is no curb and gutter that was installed with that pavement.

Through the years, type 2 material has been placed there because the water runs parallel to the edge of road.

“I think long term to protect the road, that road will degrade faster than it should and so this is an option to make improvement with additional funding that you guys are receiving,” Almberg said.

City Attorney Chuck Odgers asked if city staff would perform the work.

Almberg said, “No, we’re anticipating a contractor.”

Councilman Kurt Carson said, “I definitely know it’s been a chronic problem since we paved that road 7-8 years ago.”

Councilman Sam Hanson moved to approve spending up to $25,000. The motion was made, and it was approved unanimously.

The Nevada Division of State Lands sent the city attorney a letter informing the city that Nevada Army National Guard intends to vacate the facility at 125 Mill St.

Although the building underwent a substantial remodel in 2009, the geographic location of the armory no longer meets their needs. When the initial lease was signed it was for a 50 year lease period and due to the building being constructed with state funds, NDSL wants to seek an alternative state agency to occupy the building and assume the existing lease with the city.

The City council approved unanimously. The land the building is located on, is owned by the city.

The council meeting was recessed and a public hearing for discussion on  consider citizen comments regarding eligible activities the City of Ely should apply for under the State Community Development Block Grant program.  Two people attending the meeting spoke with their suggestions.

Matt Weiser was first to give his suggestions. He thanked the mayor and council and noted he had three suggestions.

Weiser’s first suggestion was commercial blight abatement. “As you all know, we have many decrepit commercial buildings in town, there not inhabitable. They have no historical value. They are bringing down property values and appearance of our town, and I would like to see some of this grant money be used to demolish these buildings.”

Weiser reminded the council that this was one of the ideas presented in the Roger Brooks presentation a year ago.

The second suggestions also pertained to  the Brooks presentation. Weiser said, “Some of the money could be used to handle the planning and studies need for a downtown plaza. Beautification committee is working on this as well, some money would help to identify likely properties for the plaza and to do some of the events planning. Architectural work and so forth.”

The last suggestion Weiser made was in regards to low income housing rehabilitation, particularly in central Ely.

“There are a lot of houses in poor care, many of them owned by elderly or disabled people who don’t have the means to fix up their homes, a lot of them are in poor condition from years of poor care and lack of maintenance and it would be great to have some money from this grant program to pay for materials, a lot of it is just a matter of paint, roofing, gutters, that sort of thing.”

Weiser went on to suggest the grant money going towards materials and suggested the coordination of a volunteer group.

“A lot of work could be done for a lot less money,” Weiser said.

“ I know of one elderly woman in my neighborhood who lives with her disabled son, she’s got two houses on her property and she wants to have one of them torn down but she doesn’t have the money to do that.

“There are a lot of examples like that, where a little bit of work could really improve the appearance of our historic neighborhoods, and two of these things the housing rehabilitation and the commercial blight I think are really important,” Weiser said.

Weiser noted that with the NDOT highway project starting next spring, stating, “There will be a brand new highway in town, and it’d be nice to have some of this housing and commercial blight cleaned up and I think it would be a great use for this grant money.”

George Chachas had a much different view of the CDBG grant money. He said, “I’d like to see some of the money be set aside for proper street widths, in particular Great Basin Boulevard. You have streets that are accessing that highway that do not meet your minimum code.”

Chachas gave Campton, Avenue K and Clark as a few examples.

Chachas also expressed his feelings on demolition of buildings.

“I’m adamantly against demolishing any buildings,” he said. “You want to fix them up, that’s fine. Well, you take down that building what are you going to do for tax base? What are you going to get off a empty lot? What are you going to do to downtown? I see empty lots and the weeds are let go for some time and we don’t need that, we don’t need the street narrowed down to two lanes, once you do that, where there is no traffic, there is no business. You want to enhance business?”

Chachas suggested leaving the lanes as they are. “I’m not saying don’t repave, or make things look nice, but you narrow it down you are going to reduce traffic in the downtown area, and you’re gonna put us on a ragged edge,” he said.  “Knocking down buildings? You need to build buildings. What are you going to do for a tax base? You need to take a serious look at this and put your money where it needs to be.”

Switzer did note to the council and the public that this was the first hearing,there will be three public hearings, this one in particular for comments from the public for possible projects, the second meeting with zero on projects, and the last meeting will be to decide on what projects will be decided upon.