CHEBOYGAN — The City of Cheboygan has hired Hubbell, Roth and Clark to put together a condition assessment for the city’s municipal building, which houses both Cheboygan City Hall and the Cheboygan Opera House.
“As many of you are aware, this building is getting in rough shape,” said Cheboygan City Manager Dan Sabolsky.
Sabolsky was a little concerned with the proposal he had received from Hubbell, Roth and Clark, the engineering firm that has worked on a number of projects for the City of Cheboygan recently. The cost the firm had given the city was for $37,800 to complete the condition assessment for the Cheboygan Opera House and Cheboygan City Hall. The city manager had expected the cost to be closer to $20,000.
Sabolsky went back through the proposal from the engineers and tried to get proposals for the assessment from other firms as well.
“I can’t get anybody to bid on this, or give us a number,” said Sabolsky. “But it looks at everything, wiring, plumbing, HVAC, roof, we have some structural issues.”
Sabolsky said the city officials are the custodians of the great, historic building in the City of Cheboygan. They need to have it checked out, so they can start to figure out what needs to be done to preserve the building and bring it back to its original glory.
“It’s a lot of money,” said Sabolsky. “Again, it was one of those things that it was hard for me to even put it on here, knowing the dollar amount, but I don’t see any other way we can do it.”
The city could hire a contractor to fix some of the minor, aesthetic issues with the building, or to fix part of the roof, but that would not be addressing the issues with the structure. It is getting to the point where there are some issues with the building that will need to be addressed in the near future.
Every year, city officials have to have someone come in and work on plumbing issues in the building. The walls between the Opera House and City Hall are also very thin and not insulated or soundproofed well.
The city does not have a large pot of money to be able to fix the opera house and city hall. Funding sources 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 city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“But I think this is one of those things that we have to do, or I think we’re going to have much bigger issues,” he said. “Kind of like the wastewater treatment plant and water issues. It pains me to ask for this, it really does.”
Cheboygan City Councilman Ken Kwiatkowski —former city clerk-treasurer for more than 20 years— said he personally feels this is long overdue. The city has been dealing with the issues at city hall and the opera house all the years he has worked for the city. His only concern is what the final result of the assessment will be, how much it will cost to fix the issues, as are other city officials.
Sabolsky and Executive Director of the Cheboygan Opera House, Owen Goslin, have had several discussions, along with the Cheboygan Area Arts Council finance committee, about the condition of the building. Once they have this condition assessment document in hand, they can go after grant funding to fix some of the more pressing concerns.
It will take around six weeks for the city to get the document in hand, once Hubbell, Roth and Clark was hired to do the assessment. This is a little longer than normal, as the engineers will have to contact contractors to get cost estimates to include in the document for some of the work.
Sabolsky said he wants to show the community that the city is invested in putting money to good use and preserving the treasure in the community that is the Cheboygan Opera House.
There is a chance, since the opera house is such a historical building, where it could receive an official historical designation, making it eligible for special funding. However, there have been some modifications made to the structure, like the steel shroud on the exterior of the building, that disqualify it at the moment.
“That might be one of the things too, in this document, well what can we do to bring it back to where it’s only had some modifications, and look at that,” said Sabolsky.
He is currently working with Hubbell, Roth and Clark to try to get the condition assessment done at a lower cost, pulling some specific things out of the study. Because of that, he was asking the city council members to approve the contract with the engineers on a cost not to exceed $37,800 basis.
Another benefit to the city having this document is it can act as a work plan, so the city can work on the improvement projects when funding is available, even if it takes several years. The plan can be updated as things are completed and the city officials can get updated quotes from contractors.
“We can adjust as we move on. If that document’s a year old then I can go back and try to figure okay, inflation was this, and what’s the prices of certain things,” said Sabolsky. “I can go back and massage those numbers later on, if things are going up. But yeah, we need those numbers for grants.”
The city council members voted unanimously to approve the hiring of the engineers to complete the assessment, not to exceed a cost of $37,800.
Contact Features Writer Kortny Hahn at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @khahnCDT.