New windows for Miner’s Foundry? |

New windows for Miner’s Foundry?

One of Nevada City’s best-known Gold Rush-era buildings could have new windows on its front facade on Spring Street.

But exactly what could be installed at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center remains an open question.

The latest proposal shows six small windows and a recessed wall panel that delineates an old entryway commissioners say ought to be preserved. The six windows would replace an 11-foot-tall window installed in 1974.

But the proposal, first presented to the Planning Commission Thursday, drew no clear consensus from commissioners. They declined to take a vote because the public needs more time to study the plans, they said.

An earlier drawing showed six larger windows leading into a new conference room on the lower level, with administrative offices above it.

Planning commissioners said they wanted to preserve the “expression” of an entryway visible on old sketches and historic photos. The 11-foot window stands approximately where the old opening to the foundry was, old sketches show.

Miners Foundry trustee Liz McAteer hopes the commission will come to an agreement before it meets again in two weeks.

Commissioners “all have their own ideas of what the building probably looked like from historical drawings,” McAteer said Friday.

“I wish we could have a consensus,” she said. “We don’t have the resources to keep going back to the drawing board. We’re a nonprofit.”

The latest drawing shows a recessed wall panel with two windows in it. The recess goes up approximately 11 feet and gives an approximate sense of where the original opening was.

McAteer and Miners Foundry Executive Director Ellen Davis both preferred the original proposal.

“This is not our first choice,” Davis said of the latest plans.

The remodeling of the former foundry also entails the construction of nine new bathrooms.

In another matter, the Planning Commission approved a proposal to build a wheelchair-accessible ramp along the side of a Victorian building at 224 Main Street.

The vote was 4-0. Commissioner Ruth Poulter was sick and did not attend.

The proposal was to replace an old window to build a door to grant disabled access. But the commission asked architect Dave Mann to have the ramp be extended a bit further. A new door will have to be punched through the wall.

The four-story Victorian building, which belongs to the Berliner family, is the future home of the county Public Defender’s Office. The county has rented the building since December.

Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, all public buildings must be wheelchair accessible.

Commissioner Laurie Oberholtzer asked that property owners be required to remove the ramp if the building returned to private use.

The building needs to be disabled accessible because a county office is moving into it, Oberholtzer said. “These changes need to be reversible,” she added.

But Commissioner Victor Prussack disagreed, saying that would be sending a very negative message to the public.

“What if a member of the Berliner family wanted to live there and required a wheelchair?” he added.

Ann Guerra, executive director of FREED, the Grass Valley-based nonprofit organization that helps the disabled live independently, stressed the ramp is an improvement.

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