By Erick Studenicka
Special to The Ely Times
After nearly six decades serving as the lone active military facility in White Pine County, Nevada Army Guard officials shuttered the Ely Readiness Center in November and are in the process of transferring ownership of the 1.86 acre plot on Mill Street back to the City of Ely.
The City of Ely owns the land the rural armory was built upon in 1959. The Nevada Division of State Lands owns the building.
In a letter from Charles Donohue, the Nevada State Lands Administrator and Registrar, to the Ely City Council dated Nov. 20, Donohue said the Nevada Army Guard was set to “mothball” the Ely Readiness Center on Nov. 21.
Officials cited the armory’s sub-standard security features and a lack of training space surrounding the armory as two of the reasons the Nevada Army Guard aims to terminate its lease with the City of Ely. The Nevada Guard had signed a 50-year lease on the property in 2006 to run to 2056. The cost of the lease was $1 per year.
Before the lease is officially terminated, representatives from the State of Nevada Division of State Lands, the Attorney General’s Office, the City of Ely and Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Bill Burks must sign off on the termination of the 2006 lease agreement. On Dec. 13, the Ely City Council discussed the termination of the lease and no member voiced any opposition to the property’s transfer back to the city.
The Nevada Guard had been paying about $1,500 a month on utilities in order to maintain the armory.
City of Ely Mayor Melody Van Camp said she was saddened to hear of the Army Guard’s desire to terminate its lease on the armory. “It’s been a landmark in town forever,” Van Camp said. “I was glad to have the military presence in the city.”
For much of its history, the Ely Readiness Center served as a training site for Nevada Army Guard military police detachments. In 2017-2018, the center housed Detachment 1, 72nd Military Police Company.
Until 2009, a full-time Active Guard and Reserve Soldier worked daily in the armory and used the building as an eastern Nevada recruiting office. For a nine-year stint from 2005-2014, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, football team used the armory as its summer training headquarters.
In 2009, the armory received a $1.5 million upgrade to its heating and cooling systems as well as Americans with Disabilities Act-related improvements. “We are giving the facility back to the City of Ely in very good shape,” said Capt. David Paxton of the Nevada Army Guard’s facility operations office.