By Tim Kowols
A Door County structural engineer is clarifying his 2013 position on the Teweles and Brandeis Granary on Sturgeon Bay’s west side, saying more should be done to save the structure. In an email sent to Sturgeon Bay Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak and shared with DoorCountyDailyNews.com, Michael J. Till of Michael J Till Associates stated that in 2013 he told the city the granary was salvageable, but “immediate remediation should be undertaken to stabilize the foundation issues as well as to restore the connections of ‘mass-timber’ element that have been compromised.” Till says he made this point because of the potential for a safety concern.
Inspired by his continuing education with UW-Madison, a Department of Natural Resources “mass-timber” building workshop, and a walking tour of Green Bay’s new Titletown District near Lambeau Field, Till says preserving the granary could lead to the creation of a park unlike anywhere else in the country.
Till added the dismantling bids are much too low as he believes individual parts from the granary must be properly numbered, labeled, and stored to ensure the building could be rebuilt correctly. You can read the entire e-mail below.
Pursuant to my recent request for a brief meeting at your office that you graciously granted me last Friday regarding the above mentioned subject matter, I hereby submit my professional opinion regarding the current status of the “Granary” and the apparent conflict I read about in the newspapers and hear on radio broadcasts…
I do this strictly as a concerned citizen of Sturgeon Bay that happens to be a Licensed Design Professional.
Back in early 2013, I, Michael J, Till, P. E., a Wisconsin Registered Professional Engineer, specializing in Structural Engineering for decades in Sturgeon Bay and throughout Door County answered a newspaper advertisement posted by the City of Sturgeon Bay for the purpose of ascertaining an engineering fee schedule via industry standard bidding procedures regarding possible stabilization of subject structure.
Upon receiving the keys from you and the former city engineer in 2013 to gain entry of the granary for two of my staff members and myself could visually observe the general conditions of the building’s structural integrity and if required, establish engineering means to stabilize any components that may need remediation.
Upon completion and after hours of a long
“look – see” we had concluded that in order to acquiesce to the conduct code of ethics for a professional engineer; whereas, it is incumbent upon a Wisconsin licensed professional engineer to warn authorities of any safety issues discovered while observing property defects.
Hence, Michael J. Till Associates submitted written warnings to the City regarding our opinion that the Granary was indeed salvageable, but immediate remediation should be undertaken to stabilize the foundation issues as well as to restore the connections of the “Mass – Timber” elements that have been compromised over many years of service. We did our obligatory safety warning with due diligence in writing and further stated if funds were not available to immediately remediate the structural defects as we also delineated with annotated photos in order to emphasize our concerns regarding the building’s vulnerability to failure if said remediation was not undertsken.
Apparently my free engineering fee proposal was in doubt and the city later in 2013 paid a structural engineering firm to do a more exhaustive report than that of what I was asked to submit via the newspaper posting for engineering design fees.
NOTE: It is our business policy to welcome as many opinions an owner wishes to receive by any means they deem necessary.
For the record; my free bid propsal is quite different than that of a paid exhaustive detailed report.
Be that as it may, it has come to my attention that some members of the city council as well as members of the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society have expressed slanderous public comments regarding my qualifications to render the opinions I warned about back in 2013.
By licsensing law, I am as structurally qualified as I was when unanimously hired by the Door County Board of Supervisors to take over the structural duties for the completion of the Door County Justice Center. And in fact, was also hired by the City of Sturgeon Bay to investigate and consult on the structural integrity of the new City Hall facility before construction close out…
PLEASE, ALLOW ME HERE TO PLEAD THE CITY FIRE CHIEF AND COUNCIL TO RE-CONSIDER THE TAKE DOWN ORDERS REGARDING THE GRANARY… BASED ON MY PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING OPINION, I HEREBY VOLUNTARILY STATE THAT FROM A PRACTICAL STANDPOINT, THE RE-USE OF WHAT PERHAPS IS CONSIDERED TO BE ONE OF THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE STRUCTURES IN THE CITY [ LIKE THE
SYMBOL OF THE EIFFEL TOWER ] BY LOCAL RESIDENCE AND BY ONE OF THE MAJOR LIFE SOURCES OF STURGEON BAY – TOURIST… HENCE, I ENCOURAGE THOSE OPPOSED TO MAINTAINING THE STRUCTURE IN ITS PRESENT LOCATION TO LOOK AT THE DISSERTATION I SUBMIT FOR YOU ABILITY AND MATURITY TO RECONSIDER THE BRAVE ACT OF CHANGING YOUR MINDS AND CONSIDER SAVING THE BUILDING FROM THE RECKING BALL AND RECANT YOUR PREVIOUS THOUGHTS OF DESTROYING WHAT HAS BEEN A TREASURE TO MANY AND THERFORE SHOULD BE REHABBED AT ITS PRESENT LOCATION FOR POSSIBLE POTENTIAL AS DESCRIBED BELOW.
TO START THE FOLLOWING DISSERTATION, LET ME SAY THAT THERE EXIST A NEW STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING MOVEMENT THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF WISCONSIN AND THE NATION CALLED “MASS – TIMBER” BUILDINGS AND THAT I RECENTLY ATTENDED A DNR WORKSHOP IN MADISON REGARDING THIS NEW MOVEMENT.
THE SUBJECT GRANARY IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF THIS REVITALIZED IDEA TO MAKE WOODEN STRUCTURES
8 TO 16 STORIES TALL AS OPPOSED TO CURRENT CODE LIMITS OF 3 STORY WOODEN STRUCTURES. THIS MOVEMENT IS HEAVILY PROMOTED BY STATE GOVERNMENTS BECAUSE OF THE ABUNDANCE OF RENEWABLE STANDING TIMBER, ESPECIALLY IN WISCONSIN.
ALSO, AS A MEMBER OF THE WISCONSIN STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS ASSOCIATION, I WAS RECENTLY INVITED TO ATTEND A TOUR OF THE “TITLE TOWN” DEVELOPMENT ACROSS FROM LAMBEAU FIELD. THE RESULTANT AFFECT OF THE TOUR IS MY INSPIRATION FOR THIS SUNSET APPEAL THAT I HEREBY SUBMIT TO THE CITY AUTHORITY AND ASK THEY FOREGO ANY ANIMOSITY OR ANGER THAT SUCH CHALLENGES SOMETIMES CAUSE. SO, PLEASE RE-CONSIDER NOT TO DESTROY THIS REALLY “COOL” ICONIC STRUCTURE BUT RATHER SAVE IT BY RE-PURPOSING IT FOR CITIZENS AND VISITORS ALIKE.
ABOUT THE TITLE TOWN PROJECT:
THE NEWLY DEVELOPED OUTDOOR FACILITY HAS A TALL STRUCTURE AS ITS FOCAL POINT THAT ACTS AS A WARMING HOUSE FOR ICE SKATERS TO GLIDE ALONG A CURVILEANER ICE SKATING RINK THAT SURROUNDS SAID TALL WARMING HOUSE BUILDING… REALLY FANTASTIC!
THERE ALSO EXIST A MAN MADE HILL FOR SNOW TUBING THAT IS ALSO INCORPORATED AROUND ONE SIDE OF THE TALL BUILDING ELEMENT…
AT GROUND LEVEL THERE ARE SCHUFFLE BOARDS AND BUCCI BALL COURTS, SWINGS, SLIDES AND OTHER PLAY AREAS. I FURTHER BELIEVE TENNIS COURTS AND WALKING PATHS, A 100 YARD DASH TRACK ETC. MAKE FOR A DELIGHTFUL USAGE OF LAND FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION.
I CAME AWAY FROM SAID TOUR WITH IDEAS FOR HOW STURGEON BAY COULD DO A SIMILAR FACILITY BY INCORPORATING THE “MASS-TIMBER” GRANARY THAT IS ALREADY ON-SITE AND NOW HAS A HISTORICAL BUILDING STATUS. I BELIEVE ALL IS POSITIVE REGARDING PROGRESSIVE CITY PLANNING CONCEPTS.
IN MY PROFESSIONAL OPINION, THE CURRENT UNCERTAINTY OF LAND USE REGARDING HIGH WATER ISSUES ETC , IT SEEMS TO ME, AS A QUALIFIED PLANNER, THE GRANARY SHOULD BE REMEDIATED AND PERHAPS THE PROPRTY BECOME PART OF THE CITY’S PARK SYSYEM THAT COULD BECOME A ONE OF A KIND FACILITY NOT FOUND ANYWHERE ELSE WITH ITS CAMPUS HAVING A MARITIME MUSEUM, WORKING WATER FRONT, TUG BOATS, COAST GUARD BOATS AND BAY SHIPS INDUSTRIAL CRANE BOOMS RISING UPWARD IN THE BACKGROUND, THE DOCKED WINTER FLEET, THE BRIDGE INFRASTRUCTURE, ESPECIALLY THE STEEL BRIDGE. ALL, I MIGHT SAY COULD BE ENHANCED WITH A WINTER AND SUMMER PARK, WITH PUBLIC TOILETS IN OR AROUND THE GRANARY, A WARMING HOUSE IN WINTER AND PLAYING OF INDOOR GAMES LIKE CHECKERS, CHEST OR SHEEPSHEAD CARD PLAYING FOR BOTH SENIORS AND YOUTH TO HAVE A VERY SPECIAL RECREATIONAL SPACE WHERE EVERYONE CAN GATHER AROUND THE HISTORICAL GRANARY. WHO ELSE IN WISCONSIN CAN DO ALL THIS?
PERHAPS THE FARM MARKET COULD BE LOCATED WITHIN THE CONFINES OF SUCH AN AREA… WALKING AND JOGGING PATHS IN SPRING/ SUMMER/FALL AND CROSS COUNTRY SKIING POSSIBILITIES IN WINTER.
IT COULD ALL START BY SAVING THE GRANARY NOW IN RETROSPECT.
THE FIRE CHIEF’S CONCERNS CAN BE SATISFIED BY TEMPORARY SHORING OF THE GRANARY UNTIL A MASTER PLAN CAN BE DEVELOPED, PERHAPS BY THE SAME DESIGN FIRM THAT CREATED THE OUTSTANDING RECREATIONAL FACILITY IN GREEN BAY’S “TITLE TOWN”
By the way, it is my opinion that the Demo Contractor’s bid is way too low to be able to save the Mass Timbers. Note: All components of the Granary are necessary to save and be labeled in an orderly fashion so that reassembly is possible if city does have it taken down under the provision of storing the building components for future use. Note: AGAIN, LET ME EMPHASIZE IN ORDER TO RE- ASSEMBLE THIS BUILDING, ALL PARTS MUST BE NUMBERED AND KEPT ON A PLAN THAT REFLECTS WHERE THE NUMBERED PARTS GO WITH EACH OTHER OR ALL WILL BE LOST AFTER THE FACT.
IF DEMO CONTRACTOR JUST TEARS IT DOWN FOR HIS LOW BID, I BELIEVE NOTHING BUT A FEW POST MIGHT BE LEFT.
THERE EXISTS, IN MY OPINION SOME $200,000.
DOLLARS WORTH OF TIMBERS ALONE AND MAYBE THAT’S WHY THE LOW BID…
IN SUMMATION, AS A PROFESSIONAL PLANNER AND STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, I WOULD HOPE THAT ALL PARTIES SET ASIDE THEIR DIVISIONS AND COME TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF THE COMMUNITY AND RE – CONSIDER WHAT A GEM WE HAVE IN THIS “MASS TIMBER ” GRANARY BUILDING.
I WOULD BE PLEASED TO MEET WITH ANYONE INTERESTED IN HEARING MORE ABOUT THE UNIQUENESS OF POSSESSING THIS UNUSUAL GRANARY IN OUR WATER FRONT LANDSCAPE.
In conclusion, this email is NOT a solicitation for business, but rather a free sharing of a professional engineer’s viewpoint.
PLEASE, feel free to share this email with whomever you wish.
Mike Till, P. E.
LICENSE # 22384