[Shortened slightly from public letter sent to media. Photos added by Centerline from the Title Town project described in letter].
... Please, allow me here to plead with 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 Eiffel Tower] by local residents and by one of the major life sources of Sturgeon Bay - Tourists ... Hence, I encourage those opposed to maintaining the structure in its present location to look at the dissertation I submit ...
... There exists a new structural engineering movement throughout the State of Wisconsin and the nation called “mass-timber” buildings and 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 effect of the tour is my inspiration for this sunset appeal that I hereby submit to the City Authority and ask they [...] 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 curvilinear ice skating rink that surrounds said tall warming house building... really fantastic!
There also exists a man made hill for snow tubing that is also incorporated around one side of the tall building element.
At ground level there are shuffle boards and bocci 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 how 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 property become part of the city’s park system 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 Ship’s 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, chess 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... 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” development.
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 the 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 posts might be left. There exists, in my opinion some $200,000 dollars worth of timbers along 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