ONSTED, Mich. — Preservationists gained 60 more days to save the Irish Hills towers, once a tourist attraction in Lenawee County but more recently deemed a decaying danger.
The Cambridge Township board on Wednesday agreed to give Donna Boglarsky, president of the nonprofit Irish Hills Historical Society, another two months to submit a detailed plan to stabilize the towers and pay for the work.
Township officials previously set an Aug. 1 deadline for the owner of the observation towers to submit a detailed plan to repair the 1924 structures or face demolition under the township’s dangerous building ordinance.
Township Supervisor Harvey Hawkins said Ms. Boglarsky, who purchased the towers in 1976 with her late husband and then deeded them to the society this year, didn’t submit the plan requested but completed other work that convinced officials to extend the deadline.
“She’s made some improvements, so we told her that she had 60 days to come back with a detailed, step-by-step way of how they are going to redo those towers and where they are going to get the financing from. And, in 60 days we’ll be faced with this again,” he said. “The whole township, I believe, wants her to save the towers, and we are trying to work with her as much as we can.”
In July, the tops of the towers were removed to alleviate concerns about the buildings toppling over, possibly onto nearby U.S. 12. Ms. Boglarsky lent the the society roughly $20,000 for the work.
Township Building Official Bruce Nickel sent her a letter last week stating that taking off the tops “reduced the risk to public safety” but didn’t eliminate it.
“The remaining tower structures are still damaged and in need of structural repairs and weather protection,” he stated.
Ms. Boglarsky said she was relieved township board members, on a 4-0 vote with one member absent, gave her more time.
“The extension really was for us to submit a plan for the rest of the work that needs to be done,” she said. “My hope is that not only will I have a plan in place, but the work will be completed.”
She plans in the upcoming months to repair holes in the building, secure window openings to keep out snow and rain, and fix some support issues. Ms. Boglarsky hopes that work will appease township officials and give her time this winter to plan fund-raising efforts and figure out restoration details.
Her goal is to reopen the towers. She previously pegged the cost of a full restoration at roughly $300,000.
So far this year, the society raised about $4,000, but has spent some of that on printing and other fund-raising costs.
The towers were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Contact Vanessa McCray at: email@example.com, 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.