It has been brought up time and time again that White Pine has a housing shortage. County Commissioner Richard Howe is trying to get things moving forward to fix the problem.
What’s the plan? New houses. Where? Below Steptoe Park and Avenue M vicinity’s. What would the median price be? $220,000.
A round table meeting was held the day before the commission in hopes that Howe could go to the commission and ask for the commissioners commitment to this project.
Several people from the community including real estate agents, city officials, Nevada Department of Corrections Warden, and top personnel from KGHM, Fiore, and Kinross attended the meeting.
Howe explained to the group that he is hoping to get the mines to buy in to making this community sustainable.
“In 1982 Elko was the same size as Ely, I worked here at Kennecott, Elko was a population of 7,500 in the 80s now, they are 50,000,” he said. “They grew because they had vision. Without housing you don’t have population, without population you don’t have growth.”
Howe explained his idea of working towards solving the housing shortage.
“I went out, and I identified some parcels which are off of Park Avenue and Avenue M,” he said. “We have those lots already listed, but we haven’t had one single bite on them at the price.”
The idea for houses on these parcels would be 4-6 lots on Park Avenue, and where Park and Avenue M meets, the county owns 62 acres. Howe suggested building 18-20 homes on these lots. Homes would be up to 1,500 square feet.
“By doing this we are not going to do low to moderate income in that area, because the people that invested in the mountain view subdivision are right next to that, and we do not want to interfere with theirs.”
Kenna Almberg from Desert Mountain Realty spoke about the housing market stressing too that there’s a definite need for housing. Almberg explained a new family comes in, they want a nice house in a nice neighborhood and it takes her about 10 minutes to show them what inventory Desert Mountain Realty has.
Brad Sampson from Keller William Realty also stressed the housing shortage. “We have 3-4 people looking for rentals, and we have nothing. We have a lot of small lots in Murry Canyon, if the code would change to allow a small footprint home, they would be full. We have so many older homes that aren’t worth renovating. If you could put a tiny house on top of a garage, I could have that sold before it’s finished.
“What were trying to get across to the mines, and maybe you can tell your employees, is ‘Hey we want you to stay here, there’s a movement going on, maybe even if the mines got together like Quadra did, when they bought for their bosses up there, that would help’.”
It was discussed that there needed to be a collaboration between the city to look at some of their codes, and work on the water and sewer connection fees.
It was questioned if townhomes could be built in that area. B.J. Almberg, city engineer, explained that the county owns along another block of land between the White Pine Care Center and William Bee Ririe Hospital and that might be an ideal location for townhomes.
Andy Britton, vice president and general manager with Fiore Gold, gave an update on the mine. Fiore Gold is located 60 miles west of Ely, 25 miles east of Eureka, very close to the Eureka mine, as a result that trip is much shorter from Eureka to the mine.
“So right now we have about 150 employees from the mine, we have about a three year mine life left, and we have drilled out a bunch of new resources and they will be announced when it’s ready.
“The Gold Rock mine, which is about 8 miles southeast from Pan, will be about the same size property 160 people max, we got the record decision from the BLM but we have to go through the state, so we are potentially four years out on building that property.”
Britton went on to explain that he doesn’t have a lot of housing to bring people in and it would help to get some housing in.
“We want to help, we want to participate, whether that’s helping develop the water system, I don’t know what qualifies as dollar matching.”
KGHM’s Human Resources Manager Kim Kamber also noted the housing shortage in White Pine.
“We do have a problem and fortunately we own about 10 houses in Ruth, and we use those for temporary housing, and then we have a few others that we rent out, but it’s not nearly enough. One of the big concerns is people don’t have housing, they don’t accept the job.”
Howe told the crowd at the round table that everything talked about and discussed would contingent on the rest of the commissioners, but stated he was confident that they we’re going to be on board with this.
The next day at the commission meeting, Howe updated the commission on the meeting the previous day, and his ideas and plans.
“After yesterday’s meeting, I actually had a call from a developer who is very interested in helping us move forward with this project,” he said. “We have two major construction jobs coming on with 2-3 year time frame. We have teachers coming in. We have no housing. We have mines opening up, mines expanding, a prison that is 70 employees short, because they can’t get them in here, they can’t move in, or when they come we don’t have any housing, they aren’t willing to stay here.”
Commissioner Steve Stork said, “ I think someone needs to approach the City of Ely Utility Board and address in their connection fees, I really think that’s what hinders a lot of the problem.”
Commissioners Carol McKenzie and Gary Perea both asked for the commission to keep Baker and Lund in mind when they think about the housing shortage as well.
McKenzie said, “I have one thing, you are talking mostly Ely, and I know Baker, we have an issue in Lund because we are so far away from everything, and we have people who want to live away from everything, but trying to find housing for them is almost impossible. It’s not just around the City of Ely, it’s a county wide issue.”