Consultant visits Ely; offers suggestions for improvement


KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
Building such as this dilapidated gas station are better off being torn down to help improve the look of the town.

The City of Ely recently received a grant for $28,000 to bring in Roger Brooks who provides assessments to communities who are in need of help boosting their communities economy, tourism, and overall look.

Brooks and his wife came in and spent a few days in Ely. They flew in to Salt Lake City and drove in.

The first thing they noticed coming into Ely is the empty run down buildings, the rusted out old cars lined up were a huge eyesore to see driving into town.

“We thought this is a dying town,” Brooks said. “We did not get any information up front, we came in like any other visitor or tourist.”

Brooks said they looked at several different factors: Is this a place people want to live, retire? What is the quality of life here? They also put on the hat as an investor, what would it take to invest?

Brooks came up with 87 suggestions for the community. He was not able to cover all of them during the two and a half hour presentation but highlighted some that he felt were very important.

The only money Brooks said he was able to spend was on dining and lodging. There were not any souvenir stores open, and nothing available for purchase.

He also noted he overheard several times locals talking about how they wish the tourists would not come to Ely, and that they wish the loneliest highway was still lonely.

“I would think that’s a good thing the road has more traffic,” Brooks said.

Forty one vacant buildings were discovered, which makes up over 50 percent of the downtown area. Grants to have the buildings torn down are available.

Brooks mentioned it was better to see a vacant lot rather than a run down, empty building.

Brooks said he had no idea what type of business the location of Hometown Pizza was until he drove up and walked into it. The signage out front of the motels should explain why someone should stay there.

“Tell us about your remodeled rooms, comfy beds, themed rooms, everyone has wi-fi, so that’s unnecessary to put on a sign,” Brooks said.

He complimented Hunter’s Cafe, saying they did a great job with their signage, but suggested additional beautification such as hanging baskets.

He mentioned he was unsure if Racks  was ever open because of all the buildings around the business being closed down. He suggested better signs to help with that.

He congratulated the Greek for being the only business downtown open after 6 p.m.

“I think the businesses are their own worst enemies in Ely, and it’s not everyone but it’s a large share of you,” Brooks said.

Women account of most consumer spending, and 70 percent of all retail spent, that takes place after 6 p.m. Many of the stores in Ely are closed by 6 p.m..

Ely is a recreational paradise, and it’s not promoted enough. Brochures and itineraries to have available for tourists was discussed.

“You are a recreational paradise, hunting, fishing, bathtub boat racing,” Brooks said.

Promoting the activities not the location is what should be focused upon more.

In addition, it was mentioned that places like the Art Bank that’s only open 16 hours out of the week should be open on a regular basis. Brooks said that was their biggest disappointment of the week.

“Tourists were looking in through the windows,” he said. “I’m sure they wanted to spend money, but it was closed.”

The golf course was mentioned. No signs as to where the clubhouse is, what is inside the building, if there’s food, beverages, carts for rent, what the hours of operation are.

Brooks said “a guy came out of the clubhouse and asked what we were doing, we said taking pictures, he said of what?”

The presentation brought a lot of light to several business owners, elected officials and the community.  It was noted that out of 85 of the 87 suggestions, 85 of them could be fixed for $10,000 by adding signs, pots and plants, and benches which businesses need to do.

Grants for some of these projects were mentioned. Ely could be a tourist destination from April through October and if enough visitors traveled through during those seven months that would be enough to sustain for the other five months.

Brooks said during the presentation, “Your potential is amazing, get rid of that word potential….Ely is amazing.”

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  1. I’M looking to bye a home in ely, but I’ve been told that there is a 2 year wait list for internet service. that has to be fixed.

  2. DId he mention the poor quality grocery stores?

  3. Adam E. Tytell says:

    Letter to the Editor.
    This comment is on the article, “Consultant visits Ely”.
    A number of citizens of our community have been making these same recommendations of this consultant for some time. Sadly, they’ve fallen on deaf ears. Our ELECTED community leaders will accept grant money to pay a consultant to echo many of the same recommendations already made to them by the citizen’s at no cost. Possibly now that there’s been money spent, these items will get some attention? Community Leaders, ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION? Community leaders are not just elected officials, they’re business owners, civic organization officials & members, and even a few of us everyday working class taxpaying registered voters.
    We should ALL take notice of two business’s noted in this article,
    “The Greek”, and “Hunters Café”.
    These are business’s that are aware of us the diverse working class, and tourists whom may not be able to shop in the standard 9 to 5 business hours.
    Hunters Café is open very early in the morning to accommodate those of us whom work crazy hours because of our professions, outdoors sportsmen, and other early risers. They offer a variety of quick quality coffees and food with a smile. Visitors and locals have said, “What a concept!”
    The Greek “Radio Shack” is a business that’s aware of what many of us need in what’s offered there, later in the day. A special electronic accessory, battery, etc. How many of us have had a TV go on the fritz watching the 6PM news, or needing a phone, or phone accessory before work the next day? Visitors from out of town have said how well they were treated with old fashion customer service, even though the item they needed was located at another store by the nice man at Radio Shack.
    More importantly, I’ve witnessed the proprietor’s of both of these business’s making a concerned effort to accommodate people entering their businesses, politely and professionally, regardless of their race, ethnic heritage, were they came from, or live. The “Your not from around here” or “Let me help this guy first because he’s my neighbor” attitude is not apparent.
    If more business proprietors and community leaders would adopt these practices, not to mention making an effort to maintain the curb appeal of the city, we wouldn’t need a well paid consultant to travel here to address these issues.
    Not long ago we saw a county commissioner and a city councilmen give their time, sweat, and labor to a community improvement project. They lead by example! It was a little less talk, and a lot more action!
    We ALL need to start making a better effort to treat every person we come in contact with in our community, with the dignity and respect deserved by all ! We can start to improve our community and economy if we make these simple efforts. We’re shrinking. Let’s not fade into obscurity. We’re incredibly fortunate to be in a geographically Beautiful area of the country. Let’s improve our community, and follow the recommendations. Lets promote the activities in our community. This is a GREAT PLACE! There’s no-longer room for closed minded Bigotry!
    We need to put our differentness’ aside.
    Our future depends on it!
    Respectfully submitted by Ely resident,
    Adam E. Tytell

  4. Wiiliam Hill says:

    I find it fascinating that there are many vacant homes in Ely. A lot of them foreclosures with sky-high prices. As a (somewhat) experienced real estate investor, I know that the financial institutions who own these foreclosures are not required to pay property taxes, so they just let these unsold homes decay. And then, there are just vacant homes. Some of them look livable. Quite amazing, really!

  5. MasterInspector says:

    Well written & stated Adam T. As a self-employed commercial building inspector out of Las Vegas, I’ve come to Ely on business many times over the past 15+ years and I always bring my wife with me so we can enjoy your wonderful hamlet and dine on those fantastic scones at the Hotel Nevada….and try not to get burned in their teeny-tiny showers (if you’ve ever stayed there you know what I mean)…and ride the trains when we can….etc. etc. We always joke that when we’ve had enough of city-life we’re headed to Ely with our 27 horses and none of our grandkids 😉 You guys suffer from the ‘forrest-and-trees’ syndrome….which to an extent…everybody does to some degree. You’ve got the ‘GBU’ going on there just like everywhere else does (GBU=good-bad-ugly) and anyone who’s sat thru one of your City Council meetings knows what I mean…but all that aside….the good far outweighs the B&U so as the song says ‘Accentuate the Positive’…. Nothing was said in the article about your marvelous train yard…the rides….the tours thru the shop….the volunteers who keep it going…wonderful people all. And their website is tops! I log onto the train-yard-cam every so often to see the snow (something we only dream about in Vegas). In the 60’s, Marshall McLuhan said ‘…a way of seeing…is a way of NOT seeing…’ and that’s why you bring in outside consultants/experts to Ely….to help you ‘see’ what you’re not seeing, and draft a ‘To Do List’ as it were.

    Take your consultants list of ’87’ and hone it down to the Top-10 and get started. I’m here to tell you…it WILL make a difference.

    Oh…and the Greek / Radio-Shack is great. I love going in there to browse…and always wind up buying some things. He’s got it going-on there…and others could take a tip from him.

    And when we finally get up there…we’ll pitch in and help….after we introduce ourselves and feed the horses.

  6. San Winter says:

    Maybe someone should have paid Buddy and Patty Sampson the $28,000 for advising businesses and citizens about curb appeal, because that’s about what this article is suggesting, curb appeal and a collective local attitude change. He brought up benches, but did they notice the many beautiful benches all along the downtown area on both sides of the street donated by a longtime resident as one of his last wishes before he passed on. I’ve hardly seen anyone sitting on those benches while driving through downtown. And one establishment downtown took one of those benches and moved it around to the side of the building for personal use, instead of public use. Perhaps all those beautiful benches should be relocated where the people go and stay for awhile socializing. I can’t believe it, $28,000 paid out for one presentation of what we already know, perhaps owners are either too broke or too complacent to care. Did they present a full and detailed consulting report in writing with documentation and examples of success elsewhere? Consulting and feasibility studies *sarcasm*…You city officials, do you even know about online Fb groups and Fb pages online on Facebook, such as, White Pine Talking, White Pine Living, White Pine and Ely Points of View, Ely Nevada Online, even White Pine County Clutter and so forth that have discussions about the city and the county and who do their best to share and make a difference? A number of officials and local citizens do know and are involved, but they have to fight to be heard and it’s an uphill battle sometimes to make change for the betterment of all. Consulting grants and feasibility studies *Sarcasm* Ask the locals, their information is valuable and free…well except if I had anything to say about it, I would have given the $28,000 to Retired Sheriff Buddy Sampson and Patty Sampson for curb appeal advice alone, but they’re also aware of the the general mindset of most locals who realize we need progress success. The Sampson’s have beautiful curb appeal, it is inviting and they even have holiday themes throughout the year! Something businesses of downtown Ely needs and surrounding areas. Actually, I hope he didn’t get all the grant money, you should have appointed a local committee to study the issues, brainstorm solution, involve the public and convince vacant building owners to occupy for business or like others have said in history, “Tear down this wall!”

    • Just to clarify, (upon hitting a fever pitch in your diatribe) you advocate for forcing commercial property owners to start (magical, non-specific) businesses within the buildings that they happen to own (for any variety of reasons) or face the destruction (and loss) of their investment? You prefer vacant lots to buildings, and you apparently want people to just sort of “automatically” (*Sarcasm*) ‘start a business’ like popping bread in a toaster or launching a game of monopoly? How about brothels and strip clubs – would that be ok? (*Sarcasm*) I am tempted to ask if you know ‘the first’ thing about business (*Sarcasm*).



      (*No, seriously?*)

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