FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP - In August 2012, voters in Franklin Township defeated a proposal to construct a community center with a new fire hall, but members of the township board now have another idea for a location for a community center.
The new fire hall was constructed on Sunshine Road, leaving the former Quincy-Franklin-Hancock Townships fire hall on U.S. 41 next to the Quincy Mine Shaft House property empty and unused. However, there is a proposal to convert that building for use as a community center and township offices.
Glenn Ekdahl, Franklin Township supervisor, said this isn't the first time there's been a discussion with township board members about the need for a new community center/office space.
Image courtesy of Glenn Ekdahl
This is an artist’s rendering of a proposed renovation of the former Quincy-Franklin-Hancock Townships fire hall on U.S. 41 near the Quincy Mine Shafthouse. Members of the Franklin Township Board of Trustees are considering possibly converting the unused building for a community building and township offices.
"We've actually been talking about it a long time," he said.
Estimates for a new stand-alone community building made at the time constructing a new fire hall was being discussed ranged from $600,000 to $700,000, Ekdahl said.
"That's way too expensive," he said.
Ekdahl said the former fire hall building, which was constructed in the late 1940s, is 2,640 square feet, and is still useful.
"It's a solid building," he said. "That building has outlived its usefulness as a fire hall, but it would be great for a township hall."
Ekdahl said the current township office and meeting room, which are in a building next to M-26 at the entrance to the former Quincy Smelting Works site, are too small for large gatherings.
In October 2012, the Franklin Township Board of Trustees, and the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission came to an agreement for the sale of the smelter site - which the township owns - to the National Park Service for $335,000 plus the forgiveness of $11,437 in loans from the Advisory Commission to the township. The Advisory Commission made a down payment of $2,000 on October 22, 2012. They have until Sept. 30, 2015, to pay off the $335,000 sale price.
Ekdahl said it's possible the sale of the smelter site could actually be completed this summer because of a $100,000 donation and a fundraising effort by the Advisory Commission.
The township will also have about $141,000 for the sale of an easement at the smelter site to the Michigan Department of Transportation for the realignment of M-26 through Ripley. With those funds, there would be money available for a renovation of the former fire hall.
Ekdahl said as part of the agreement for selling the smelter site, the township board must be out of its current location no later than two years after the sale.
Although turning the former fire hall on U.S. 41 into a community building is only in the discussion phase, Ekdahl said to renovate it would probably require the removal of the two large overhead doors and the spaces closed in, new roof shingles, new siding, the construction of a community space, Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms, and township offices.
Ekdahl said he's talked to some Franklin Township residents about the idea of converting the former fire hall into a community center, and many of them think it's a good idea. He would like to hear ideas from other residents, also. He can be reached at 369-1498 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.