Repairing lighthouse complex
Menominee officials must follow the proper steps.
Sunday, August 18, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - It's been about five years since the City of Menominee secured the deed to the North Pier Light, otherwise known as the lighthouse. With the deed came responsibilities for its use and upkeep, much of which has not been done.
The tide started to shift in July when the city council got together to discuss the condition of the iconic structure and look into ways to make needed repairs and develop a plan for long-term maintenance.
City Manager Michael Cramer recently addressed the Special Projects/Community Relations Committee where he presented a timeline of things that need to happen between now and June of 2014 in order to seek a grant from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, known as SHPO.
One of the first things to be done is put together a historic structures report, which is estimated to cost between $25,000 and $35,000. Grant funding for the report, if approved, would reduce the city's actual cost.
"That report would contain plans and specifications for any improvements that would need to be made to the lighthouse," said Cramer. "It's a pretty detailed product once you get finished with it."
Cramer said with a project like this, the state likes to be intimately involved in request for proposal process before an architectural firm is selected.
"So really, the first portion is just getting your general information and putting together the grant package and sending it in and seeing if you get awarded a grant for the planning aspects," he said.
Restoring the lighthouse is not as easy as sandblasting the metal structure, applying primer and following it up with a couple coats of paint and then seal coating any leaks.
When the state and historical officials are involved, there are a lot of hoops that have to be jumped through, including researching the lighthouse history and compiling a complete report on its functions and changes over the years.
Some of that work has already been conducted by the Menominee Historical Society through the facilities of the Anuta Research Center. Local historian Michael Kaufman presented members of the committee with a historical summary detailing the historical significance of the lighthouse.
Community Development Director Nancy Douglas said the information would be helpful but may not be enough to satisfy the state.
"If you get a grant to do the planning it has to be done with a historic architect, preferably one with a lighthouse background," she said. "It's very clear in the documents that you must have a licensed historic architect and they will give us a list of who we can choose."
Cramer said he's already seen a list of about a dozen qualified people, three of which were highlighted as being lighthouse specialists.
Even if the city were to have all the historical and construction documentation in hand right now, it would still take quite some time to get moving on the project because the state must review every step along the way.
"SHPO puts four weeks darn near on everything they look at," said Cramer. "It's going to take four weeks to get past us to approve it. They want to be intimately involved in the request for proposal, in the solicitation letters and so forth."
Cramer suggested that Douglas work on gathering the necessary information for the grant information and then at the September council meeting present a grant resolution of support for the state indicating what the city will do.
"If the grant is awarded, then we can move forward at that point in determining who would be doing what and what it would cost."