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Proposed Virginia City community center to have industrial look

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

It looks a bit like a stamp mill during the Comstock’s glory days, but it will provide a place for residents of Virginia City to meet, work and play.

A design for a new community center was approved by the Comstock Historic District last week and district administrator Bert Bedeau said it fits right in with what used to be in that area, right next to a pile of mine tailings.

“It’s an industrial design, a lot like the old mill buildings,” he said. “It’s got the old corrugated metal siding and a nice standing-seam metal roof.”

According to the drawings produced by HD Architects, the building will be light gray, with a darker roof and red trim, comparable to the styles of the late 1800s.

The proposed 6,000-square-foot center will be built on what are now little-used tennis courts near the swimming pool on Carson and H streets.

The target date for the opening of the center is May 2009, but Community Chest Inc., Executive Director Sean Griffin hopes enough donors come forward to make it happen even sooner.

“It’s real important,” he said. “Any donors, large or small, we are open to.”

Griffin said the community center would be the primary spot for the public health nurse’s office. It will have child-care programs and a business center with free computers and phones provided by NevadaWorks.

“It’s a huge step forward,” Griffin said. “I’m really, really jazzed. It’s a real opportunity to make something happen in the community that’s long overdue.”

The building will be home to all of the county’s youth programming, will be a community gathering place and training facility and will house some offices of nonprofit groups such as the Comstock Arts Council and the UNR Cooperative Extension.

He said the county lost its one child-care center and never had an adequate site for the public health nurse, which provides immunizations, well-baby screenings, flu shots and other illness-prevention programs.

Griffin said the center will have half a basketball court and a temporary stage for performing arts activities.

“Anytime there’s a need for a community or town hall meeting, we can host it there,” he said. “We will be able to offer many comprehensive youth programs.”

Community Chest has raised $400,000 of the estimated $2 million plus cost, Griffin said. He added the Community Chest was working with Sen. Harry Reid’s office to obtain an appropriation, but were also looking for public or private donors.

Griffin said he has had strong support from Storey County, and the hard work of many volunteers, including Hannafin Design Associates, which worked on the project for about seven years.

“This will help the whole community, and it’s located near every other facility for the county,” he said.

The work Community Chest has done on the center was not lost on Bob Milz, chairman of the Comstock Historic District and Lyon County Commissioner.

At the Lyon County Commission meeting Thursday, he suggested to Edrie LaVoie, Lyon County’s human services director, that she contact the Community Chest for assistance getting a similar center in Lyon County.

Though the group’s headquarters is in Virginia City, Community Chest is also involved in programs for Lyon County residents.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.