Condition assessment to determine the price to pay to preserve the historic building

CHEBOYGAN – The Town of Cheboygan has engaged Hubbell, Roth and Clark to set up a condition assessment of the town’s municipal building, which houses both Cheboygan Town Hall and the Cheboygan Opera House.

“As many of you know, this building is in poor condition,” said Cheboygan City Manager Dan Sabolsky.

Sabolsky was a little concerned about the proposal he had received from Hubbell, Roth and Clark, the engineering company that has recently worked on a number of projects for the town of Cheboygan. The cost the company gave to the city was $37,800 to complete the condition assessment of the Cheboygan Opera House and Cheboygan Town Hall. The city manager expected the cost to be closer to $20,000.

Sabolsky went back on the engineers’ proposal and also tried to get evaluation proposals from other companies.

“I can’t ask anyone to bid on that, or give us a number,” Sabolsky said. “But he’s looking at everything, the wiring, the plumbing, the HVAC, the roof, we have structural issues.”

Sabolsky said city officials are guardians of the grand historic building in the city of Cheboygan. They need to have it checked out, so they can begin to understand what needs to be done to preserve the building and restore it to its original glory.

Dan Sabolsky, City Manager of Cheboygan

“That’s a lot of money,” Sabolsky said. “Again, this was one of those things that it was difficult for me to even put here, knowing the dollar amount, but I don’t see any other way to do it.”

The city could hire a contractor to fix some of the building’s minor cosmetic issues or repair part of the roof, but that wouldn’t fix the structural issues. It gets to the point where there are issues with the building that will need to be resolved in the near future.

Every year, city officials have to bring someone in and work on the plumbing issues in the building. The walls between the Opera and the town hall are also very thin and poorly insulated or soundproofed.

The city does not have a big kitty to be able to repair the opera and the town hall. Sources of funding that were suggested to help pay for the assessment and potential repairs included the new marijuana excise tax funding coming to the city or using some of the funds from American Rescue. Plan Act of the city.

“But I think it’s one of those things that we have to do, or I think we’re going to have much bigger problems,” he said. “Kind of like the sewage treatment plant and the water issues. It pains me to ask this, it really does.”

Cheboygan City Councilor Ken Kwiatkowski, the city’s former secretary-treasurer for more than 20 years, said he personally thinks this is long overdue. The city dealt with issues at City Hall and the Opera House all the years he worked for the city. His only concern is what the end result of the assessment will be, how much it will cost to fix the issues, as are other city officials.

Several members of the Cheboygan City Council were concerned about the cost of repairing the Cheboygan Opera House and Cheboygan Town Hall structure, but they were all very supportive of its continued preservation.

Sabolsky and Cheboygan Opera House Executive Director Owen Goslin had several discussions, with the Cheboygan Area Arts Council’s finance committee, about the condition of the building. Once they have this condition assessment document in hand, they can apply for a grant to address some of the more pressing concerns.

It will take the city about six weeks to get the document in hand, once Hubbell, Roth and Clark have been hired to do the assessment. This is a little longer than normal, as engineers will need to contact contractors to obtain cost estimates to include in the document for part of the work.

Sabolsky said he wanted to show the community that the city is investing in using money wisely and preserving the community treasure that is the Cheboygan Opera House.

There is a chance, since the opera house is such a historic building, where it could receive an official historic designation, making it eligible for special funding. However, some modifications have been made to the structure, such as the steel shroud on the exterior of the building, which disqualifies it for the time being.

“That could be one of the things too, in this document, well, what can we do to bring it back to where it’s only had a few changes, and look at that,” Sabolsky said.

He is currently working with Hubbell, Roth and Clark to try to do the condition assessment at a lower cost, by taking some specific things out of the study. For this reason, he was asking the members of the municipal council to approve the contract with the engineers at a cost not exceeding $37,800.

Another benefit to the city of having this document is that it can be used as a work plan, so the city can work on improvement projects when funding becomes available, even if it takes several years. The plan can be updated as things are completed, and city officials can get updated quotes from contractors.

“We can adjust as we go. If this document is a year old, I can go back and try to figure out, inflation was next, and what the price of certain things is,” Sabolsky said. “I can go back and massage those numbers later, if things go up. But yeah, we need those numbers for the grants.”

Members of city council voted unanimously to approve the hiring of engineers to complete the assessment, not to exceed a cost of $37,800.

Contact feature writer Kortny Hahn at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @khahnCDT.

Richard L. Militello