For chief building official, a 30-year City Hall career drawing to a close
April 30, 2010
Ron Ivie has spent his 30-year career at City Hall making buildings around Park City safer.
But it was 20 something years into his time as Park City’s chief building official that he demanded the building where he worked be upgraded to make it safer.
Ivie, who announced this week that he will retire as the chief building official on June 30, recalled the episode in the early 2000s when he hand-delivered a notice of condemnation for the Marsac Building, the historic structure that serves as the primary municipal office building. Brad Olch, the mayor at the time, received the notice, Ivie said.
It spurred City Hall to undertake a major renovation of the Marsac Building, a New Deal-era structure, within the decade. Now reopened, its walls were reinforced to make it safer if an earthquake strikes and numerous other upgrades were made.
"I’ve never tried to be tough, tough. I’ve tried to be consistent." Ivie said in an interview on Thursday, the day after it was announced that he would be retiring.
Ivie, who is 67 years old and has been the chief building official since 1980, is one of the last remaining City Hall staffers from the 1980s, the decade when Park City positioned itself for the ferocious growth of the 1990s and the 2000s. He was hired as the top building official in 1980 and became the fire marshal — the person who investigates blazes — in 1983.
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In his role as the chief building official, he was the figure who regulated construction crews as they put up house after house, condominium after condominium and hotel after hotel over the past 30 years. In that time, Park City expanded from Old Town and a patchwork of neighborhoods outside the historic district to a city stretching from the edges of Park Meadows and Deer Valley to Quinn’s Junction.
The construction industry transformed itself into a sector that posted nine-digit years during the busiest period following the 2002 Winter Olympics. Deer Valley was essentially built during his time, as were Deer Crest, Empire Pass and some of the largest buildings on Main Street.
But Ivie talks about other accomplishments when he considers his legacy. He said, as an example, City Hall passed a rule at his urging requiring fire-sprinkler systems in commercial buildings on Main Street. It took from the early 1980s until four years or so ago for sprinklers to be installed in each of the buildings, he said. The structures on Main Street, many of them dating back 100 years, are situated right next to each other, and Ivie said a fire could have been devastating.
"There’s simply no way to protect, because there’s no space to protect," he said, adding that he saw the measure as a way to preserve Park City’s heritage. "There’s just no other practical way in my mind to save those wood structures."
Ivie said he turned down the chief building official job three times, citing organizational issues within the municipal government at the time, before accepting the position. The overall concept for what would become Deer Valley had just been approved. He said he did not expect at the time the impending boom years would be as impressive as they were, but his department, now 13 people, consistently expanded during his tenure as the workload increased.
Ivie has been working on a contract basis since August, spending three days each week at City Hall, and he is in discussions to ink another contract once he steps down from the chief building official post. If one is signed, Ivie said, he expects to be assigned duties involving the ongoing environmental cleanup in Empire Pass and Park City’s streams.
Ivie said he could also be asked to continue to investigate fires if another contract is signed. Ivie said his inability to convince prosecutors to pursue arson charges in a fire in the building now occupied by Zoom restaurant approximately 20 years ago remains the most notable item he did not accomplish.
Charlie Wintzer, the chairman of the Park City Planning Commission, who spent his career in the construction industry, tearfully honored Ivie during a Wednesday meeting of the panel. Wintzer said Ivie had raised the standards of the industry during his tenure as chief building official. The crowd gave Ivie a round of applause, but he did not speak extensively to the Planning Commission.