The Status of Tours at the Nevada State Prison
November 20, 2016

In April of 2016 the Society was required to suspend activities in the historic Nevada State Prison, including public tours. We were advised by state officials that the decommissioning of the prison triggered a requirement to change the use and occupancy code from active prison (I-3) to historic site (A-3).
The requirements are a combination of state statutes, adopted building codes, and federal accessibility laws. Public access is restricted until the change in use is approved and a new certificate of occupancy is issued. All of our efforts are now directed at financing and coordinating this four-step process. Since there is no public funding, a major part of the Society’s effort is devoted to raising money for projects. On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, the NSPPS Board of Directors voted to proceed with step 1, the code analysis. Here is a brief description of each step:

1. A licensed and approved architect must assess the existing building conditions relative to the proposed use. This is known as the “code analysis”, and includes an evaluation of health, safety, and accessibility issues. In this phase the architect will make recommendations for any changes required by the new use. This cost has been determined at just over $17,000.

2. An application for change of use, along with the code analysis and permit plans, must be submitted by the Nevada Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections is the custodian of NSP. There is a fee associated with this application. The amount of that fee, to be paid to the State Public Works Board, will be based on the estimated cost of work projects to correct the health, safety, and ADA access issues identified in the code analysis. Cost unknown at this time.

3. The mitigation projects will require the employment of a licensed engineer to provide two engineered drawings for use by construction personnel in the actual work effort. Obviously this professional will require compensation. Cost unknown at this time.

4. The actual work projects will be undertaken by a licensed contractor. The cost of these projects will of course depend on their nature and extent of the work. Our hope is that the projects will be small and relatively inexpensive. We would also attempt to enlist the services of Department of Correction’s employees and inmates in an effort to reduce costs.

When NSP was occupied with inmates, the code requirements were very demanding; because of this, we believe that actual modifications to the structure will be small. Any modification to the structure will also require approval by the State Office of Historic Preservation, which may have the effect of further reducing the actual work we must do.

This page will be updated periodically as each step is completed and we have a better idea when tours can begin again. To all of our volunteers: thank you for your patience! It is our hope that you will want to join us again when we open the prison for tours.