Bell tower elevator updates on ‘to-do’ list

GCNO file photo

The Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower has been dubbed as “a gift that keeps costing.” Funding for the construction of the bell tower came from Floyd Mahanay, but Greene County is responsible for maintenance.

Now 50 years old, maintenance has become more of an issue. County engineer Wade Weiss told the county supervisors Monday that it’s time to consider upgrades to the elevator. Last week a group of adult visitors to the top of the tower had an experience Weiss called “not unsafe, but unfortunate,” and they ended up walking down the stairs from the observation deck.

Codes have changed four times since the elevator was installed, Weiss said, and technology has changed.

Weiss said he had gotten a quote of $30,000 to update the elevator about 15 years ago, and he anticipates the cost would be nearly twice that now.

Board chair John Muir suggested that it’s time to start looking for grant funds for an elevator upgrade. He said that although buying bells has been the focus of the Bell Tower Community Foundation, “going to the top of the tower is a big thing, and we need to all work together to keep that thing functional… It shouldn’t all fall to the county.”

Problems with the roof and windows leaking continue to grow, also. “The water problems have gotten severely worse. We need to talk with somebody and figure out what we can do…. I think it’s every joint,” Weiss said. He called the problem “ugly,” although the structure of the bell tower is not threatened.

Weiss also noted that the observation deck has been named as the “Paul Nalley Observation Deck” in recognition of Nalley’s large bequest that made completion of the carillon possible.


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