Capitol in Carson City getting much needed work | NevadaAppeal.com
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Capitol in Carson City getting much needed work

Faux artist Karen Pecorilla paints a wood grain look onto the entry doors of the governor's office at the Capital building, while a full renovation on the women's restroom, background, is also underway.
Jim Grant / jgrant@nevadaappeal.com | Nevada Appeal

After being neglected for years during the recession, Nevada’s Capitol is getting nearly $1 million worth of much-needed repairs and upgrades.

The most prominent work right now is the total remodeling of the main floor restrooms. That work, costing a total of $273,276 for both the men’s and women’s restrooms, is nearing completion. Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez said not only were the bathroom facilities serioiusly out of date — more than 30 years old — they weren’t even ADA compliant for the Capitol’s visitors.

The remodels are the most expensive single item on the growing list of upgrades, changes and maintenance projects at the state’s center of government. When completed, the bathrooms will be state-of-the-art including the low flow toilet fixtures Gov. Brian Sandoval specifically requested.

Once the restrooms are completed, work can start on the elevator replacement. That project, costing $220,000, has to be on hold until the restrooms are completed because, without an elevator, there’s currently no way for people in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues to get to an ADA compliant bathroom in the basement or on the second floor.

The remodels are the most expensive single item on the growing list of upgrades, changes and maintenance projects at the state’s center of government.

The elevator replacement, a complete remodel, should begin in about two weeks and take a month. Right now, Nuñez said, the contractor is waiting on the last batch of materials to arrive.

“It’s going to be a new elevator,” he said.

During the elevator project, the administration will have to hold key meetings including the Board of Examiners somewhere else. Sandoval said this week he favors the tourism board meeting room in the Laxalt Building next to the Carson Nugget.

The main floor restrooms, however, aren’t the only bathroom upgrade on the list. Nuñez said a remodel of the governor’s private bathroom is in the design phase. That small private facility off of his office hasn’t been upgraded since the Capitol was reconstructed and seismically refitted in 1978-1979.

Buildings and Grounds has also begun the process of completely re-keying the Capitol and installing the rest of a master-key and key-card system that’s going to cost some $180,000.

Then there’s the project to repair the more than 100 year old wrought iron fence surrounding the Capitol. Nuñez said that’s complicated by the mandates of the State Historic Preservation Office which, he said, “has to approve everything we do.”

Some sections of the historic fence are nearly falling down and badly need repair. And SHPO won’t let his crews straighten out and realign the existing fence.

Fortunately, when the Library and Archives Building was built in the 1990s and Fall Street was closed, then Buildings and Grounds Chief Mike Meizel had crews carefully preserve and store the sections of the fence removed at that time along with the granite blocks that make up the fence foundation.

“We have a lot of materials already for the fence,” said Nuñez.

This past year, a new electronic surveillance system was installed to provide better security at the Capitol. Instead of nine or 10 cameras for the Capitol Police to monitor the building, there are now 34 cameras strategically placed. Nuñez said that cost $99,314. But there will be another $8,000 spent to expand that system further and permit the Capitol Police to keep an eye on everything around the building and its grounds.

Coming this fiscal year, he said, is complete replacement of the wheelchair ramp behind the building. The existing ramp no longer meets ADA requirements and is in sad shape with concrete supports for the railings cracking and falling apart and rust appearing on the rails themselves.

“The old ramp comes out and a new one goes in,” he said.

Crews also have been working to clean up, touch up and repair wood trim that wraps around the building. The decorative wood moulding on, over and under the breezeway connecting the Capitol and its octagonal Annex has been repaired and painted. Nuñez said that work will continue on other trim around the building.

He said some of the exterior moulding has been damaged by rain and snow and must be replaced. He said he and his crews are waiting for a good storm to see what might be leaking in the rain gutters and other outside woodwork.

Inside, trim work also is being repaired and upgraded. Faux artist Karen Pecorilla is recreating the wood grain pattern on the doors to the governor’s office, When the elevator replacement is done, she’s going to fix the wood trim there, as well as doing repairs on other wood trim in the building.

Finally, the old staircase leading from the third-floor attic to the Capitol dome has already been replaced at a cost of $2,000.

Nuñez said altogether, the work cost about $1 million but that it’s worth it: “You want your Capitol to look the best.”