Southport beach house total restoration could cost $3 million

The meeting that took place at the Southport Beach House tonight was co-sponsored by Kenosha Alderpersons Steve Bostrom and Jan Michalski.  Bostrom is the alderperson of the district, and Michalski was the former alderperson of the district before the redistricting lines were re-drawn.  Michalski also serves on the Historic Preservation Commission. This building is on the National Registry of Historic Places.  About one hundred people were present at the meeting.

Other alderpersons were also present showing their support, such as David Bogdala, G. John Ruffolo, Kevin Mathewson, Chris Schwartz, Scott Gordon, and Curt Wilson.   Frank Pacetti, city administrator, made a presentation on the architectural study results of the damage done to the building from last summer’s high winds.

The study started in the spring, and the city has said the course of action for the building will be based on the results of the study.

First of all, Pacetti wanted to make it perfectly clear that there is no raze order on this building.  “Stop that rumor now.  The building has some issues.  It was built over 75 years ago.”

Shown below is the cost estimate that was shared by Pacetti:

If the brick replacement and tuckpointing is done in all one phase, the cost estimate is $1.7 million.  Doing the work in five phases adds another $60,000 to the cost.  The plan for the phased work is shown below:

Bostrom recognized Margaret Heller and all the “grass roots” work that she has already done to raise awareness.  She received a round of applause.

Heller said that the music that people heard outside was a free Zumba class being put on by Anytime Fitness.  More and more organizations are finding ways to use the building.

Bogdala passed out copies of a resolution that was drafted and will be presented to the Common Council at Monday night’s meeting, on August 20th.  The title of the resolution is “To Request the Allocation of Funds for the Purpose of Saving and Renovating the Southport Beach House.”  Bogdala said that, if the Common Council passes this resolution unanimously, “it would speak volumes.  That’s what we need to have as a first step.  Passing the resolution would make sure that a line item is added to the city’s 2013 and beyond Capital Improvement Project (CIP) budget.

Bogdala urged citizens to be there on Monday night or call their alderperson and voice their opinions on what they want to see happen with the building.  A citizen recommended that a committee of citizens be assembled to gather possible uses for the building.

Questions from the audience were fielded by Pacetti, Bostrom, and Michalski.  City staff also present were Jeff Warnock, parks superintendent, Mike Lemens, pubic works director, and Jeff LaBahn, city development director.

Michalski said that “getting a lump sum of money from the Common Council will be a hard sell.  If we choose to do the work incrementally, please be patient.  Give the city staff time to pursue matching grants and funds.  This is a beautiful, old building with history, and we all want to preserve it.  It’s up to the Common Council placing money in the CIP.  Ultimately, you have a lot of say.”

Someone from the audience wanted to know what the building would be used for.  The building can be used for a variety of purposes.  Heller said that the Kenosha Arts Association is hosting a musical night this Friday night from 6 pm to 9 pm.  Every Friday and Saturday night is booked from now until October.  There are a variety of classes, weddings, showers, and parties held throughout the year at this facility.  The hourly rental is $40.  One thing Pacetti did say was that, due to the facility not having a sprinkler system, classes for twelfth grade students and under is currently not allowed.

One citizen complained about the stench from the Sewer Department.  “People can’t even sit out in their yards.”  Another lady said that she lived two blocks away, and that it wasn’t that bad.  Michalski said that it was bad this year due to it being so dry.  The person complaining said that the building should be used for a “retirement home for Kenosha retired city bureaucrats.”

John Fox wanted to know if the roof was currently sound, and the answer was that it was.  Pacetti said that currently there are no leaks.  Lemens explained that there are four separate roofs on the buildings, of different types.  “The flashings are the biggest problem right now, because they are unstable.   They are nearing the end of their service life.  The roof is sound for the short-term.”

Another person asked about the removal of the rocks and the creation of a shoreline again.  Michalski said that he’s not hopefule for a beach for two reasons.  “The city already has a lot of beaches.  Plus, we’d have to spend additional money on dredging out the lagoon to create a beach.  There is no natural flushing out of the beach like there was in years past.  The increased bacterial counts would probably force the beach to be closed 90% of the time.”

Heller invited everyone to go downstairs and see the restoration work that Parkside did a year or two ago.  This work was done as part of the Cedar Program.  Here are some pictures of this remodeling work:

Heller suggested that the two changing rooms could be remodeled into cafes. This is what those areas currently look like:

Here’s a picture of a broken window upstairs in the main area:

Fox suggested that a sentence be added to the draft resolution stating that plans have to be approved by the National Registry and approved by the state.

Again, Bogdala called for interested citizens to attend the Common Council meeting on Monday night to encourage the Council to approve the resolution to ensure that a line item is placed in the CIP for the next several years.  Once the Common Council approves it, then requests for bids will go out for the work.

One Response to Southport beach house total restoration could cost $3 million

  • Kate G says:

    I was at that meeting, too. And your headline is NOT what was said. The main part of, the the key focus of, the plan is the $2.4 million needed to repair the building (normal maintenance, really, that any 75 year old building would need). The other $600,000 was a suggested add on. IF we’d like to use the building more for kids’ education, to make it accessible for the disabled THEN we’d need to do this extra work. It’s a conditional.
    And what a shame that your photographer found the corners of debris, a tiny proportion of the building as a whole, and posted those photos without any photos of the actively used and lovely rooms. This, too, creates a fundamental inaccuracy in your reporting. Anyone who is unfamiliar with this beach house has now learned that it’s a crumbling, deteriorated building. Is that the reality? No, it is not. You have spread misinformation. Journalists are necessary to a free citizenry – the Third Estate! – but you have a responsibility to be accurate.

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