The topic of the destruction of Ely’s two most attractive and historic buildings has been bantered about for a long time.
Here we are in this little town, at the end of the road, with few inspiring or elegant edifices; metal buildings becoming the answer to architecture!
Other aesthetic choices being made, such as years-old trees being removed and not replaced, seeming to be the only answer to continuous city money issues and inconvenience. Where is the inspiration and caring for our little town? Is the back street of West Ely a site for the center of Ely administration?
What do we offer our community and visitors for visual beautification and inspiration? For those able to go out into the BWCA, we have the endless wilderness. In the community, if any group of townspeople need visual stimulation, with the endless drab winters, we do. A town at the end of the road must offer inspiration in multiple ways; these architecturally stunning buildings, carefully planned by town fathers, are one form of this, and, they are part of our historic memory. Why bother with a White House or State Capitol? Why travel to the Wonders of the World?
Just as I wrote a few weeks ago, in regard to an emergency plan for Ely, I wonder what plan is there for a future inviting and satisfying town? Will metal and log siding replace marble and gold leaf? I realize the Design Review Committee idea didn’t work. Business folks wanted their own choices. The plans to replace fine historical structures goes beyond this.
Leadership is critical here, with someone, or some group, needed to protect what we have! When folks are ready to tear down Ely Memorial, the Community Center, and the City Hall, desperate measures are required.
One night, a few years ago, suddenly the very large old trees in front of the City Hall just disappeared – like they never were. I try to visualize what 209 East Chapman will look like without that marvelous City Hall and Fire Station. Picture the Community Center closed, windows boarded up.
Having the BBC here recently, with web cams viewing us worldwide, attention on the Bear and Wolf Centers, with international visitors in Ely very often, we are reminded that Ely is part of a larger community. How our town looks and feels is all part of a bigger picture.
I commend the Mayor in looking for additional input. I know that out there, somewhere, is an individual ready to find the necessary people and money to help this city maintain what it has; that which is historically significant to the lives of so many. We must think beyond figures and convenience. Where is that Ely alum, or summer resident, successful in business, with just the necessary connections and sentiment, to save and update these last reminders of Ely’s heritage?