Two-thirds of Reno residents want hotel demolition postponed | NevadaAppeal.com

Two-thirds of Reno residents want hotel demolition postponed

SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. – Activists trying to save the Mapes Hotel released an independent poll Tuesday showing most Reno residents oppose demolition of the historic building and two-thirds want the city to further review alternatives.

Nevertheless, City Councilman Dave Aiazzi said there doesn’t appear to be any interest among city officials in reconsidering a demolition on Super Bowl Sunday.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Washoe District Court on a lawsuit brought by historic preservationists in their attempt to block the Jan. 30 implosion.

”The trend across the country is to save and reuse landmarks like this, not tear them down,” said Holly Fiala of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s regional office at a news conference in Reno on Tuesday.

Fifty-seven percent of the Reno residents surveyed said the Mapes Hotel should be saved, said Dave Line, president of the Reno-based InfoSearch International, which conducted the poll.

Thirty-three percent favor demolition and 10 percent don’t care or have no opinion, he said.

”It shows there is a strong reservoir of support for the Mapes,” said Gary Kozel, spokesman for the National Trust in Washington, D.C.

Sixty-seven percent want substantially more time allowed for prospective buyers to present alternatives to demolition. That is perhaps the most significant finding, according to Mapes backers.

”There are people standing in line to reopen this building,” said Jon Dewey, vice president of the Truckee Meadows Heritage Trust.

The survey has a margin of error of 5 percent. Pollsters surveyed 401 adult Reno residents by telephone between Nov. 27 and Dec. 5, Line said. The participants were selected at random.

People who had not heard of the Mapes were screened from the poll, Line said.

Dewey said that City Council members who oppose reconsidering a vote to demolish the Mapes have argued there is no strong public sentiment toward saving the hotel-casino built in 1947.

”This survey refutes all that kind of thinking,” he said.

But Aiazzi said he’s not convinced. He said he wants to review the survey questions to see how they were presented.

”If you ask somebody, ‘Do you want to save the Mapes?’ they might say ‘Yes.’ But if you ask them ‘Are you willing to put more tax money into it?’ it might be a different story,” he said. ”If you told somebody it would require a $30 million bond issue, I don’t think that would pass.”

Aizzai said he believes the original 7-2 vote on the City Council probably best reflects residents’ sentiments.

People surveyed were asked: Do you think that the Mapes building should be saved from demolition?

Among the 57 percent who answered ”yes,” 35 percent said it should be saved because of nostalgic reasons, 32 percent because it is an historic building and 17 percent because of the ”beautiful architecture.”

Among the 33 percent who answered ”no,” 40 percent said it had been an unused eyesore for too long, 22 percent said it was not economically feasible to remodel and 14 percent said Reno needs something new.