(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
The Owosso Historical Commission met via Zoom on Monday, Feb. 8 to appoint officers and discuss plans heading into 2021 and beyond.
The executive director position on the commission is currently vacant after Albert Martenis III recently declined entering into a new contract with the city. Owosso City Manager Nathan Henne announced he would be acting as staff liaison to the commission “for the foreseeable future.” In outlining his commitment to the commission in a memorandum, Henne stated he will supply cash balance reports/historical fund and sites fund reports, city staff insight on OHC action items and reports on grants when applicable.
New officers voted upon by commission members include Dave Acton as chair, Mark Erickson as vice chair, and Nathan Henne acting as the interim secretary/treasurer. Two other commissioners in virtual attendance for the meeting were Sue Osika and Gary Wilson.
Agenda items on the table for the meeting included discussing the potential reopening of Curwood Castle, which has been closed for months because of COVID-19, and looking for recommendation on the 6-year Capital Improvement Plan.
Discussion on possibly opening Curwood Castle included how the castle doesn’t generally open until mid-spring. Some talk surrounded opening the castle in time for the Owosso Chocolate Walk, but Commissioner Osika shared the Chocolate Walk does not really bring traffic down into the Curwood Castle Park area, generally because of the cold weather. Commissioner Erickson questioned the possibility of accruing extra costs due to sanitization if the castle were to open, but Osika informed him she believed those costs would be minimal. Ultimately, the commissioners decided to postpone any decision on opening the castle until the next meeting.
The commissioners approved the 6-year Capital Improvement Plan with two small changes. The improvement plan includes a thorough list of historical facilities projects – many of which are already in progress, with primary funding provided through the millage and other funding coming through grants. Some of these facilities projects include:
• Curwood Castle roof, gutter, flashing and plaster repair, project year 2020-21
• Gould House furnace and hot water heater replacements, project year 2021-22
• Gould House roof, gutter and soffit repair, project year 2021-22
• Gould House porch(es) rebuild, project year 2021-22
• Gould House plumbing and drain reconfiguration, project year 2022-23
• Curwood Castle energy efficient windows, project year 2023-24
• Gould House exterior (painting and tuck-pointing), project year 2023-24
• Gould House energy efficient windows, project year 2023-24
• Gould House interior restoration, project year 2023-24
• Curwood Caste HVAC system replacement, project year 2024-25
• Curwood Castle exterior lighting replacement, project year 2025-26
• Gould House carriage house restoration, project year 2025-26
Estimated costs for each of the facilities projects is listed within the plan, along with further information in provided descriptions.
The millage funding in the 6-year Capital Improvement Plan comes from the approval in 2018 by residents to levy 1.0-mills to provide funding to maintain, improve and upgrade parks and preserve historical sites within Owosso.
Further information offered by Henne and discussed amongst commissioners included strategizing a use for the first floor of the Gould House. The first floor is generally used for office and storage space right now. Some ideas that have been considered at various times involve using the first floor as a museum, movie theater, community meeting space, historical archive space or public study area. The Owosso Historical Commission is interested in garnering community input.
Both apartments in the Gould House now have paying tenants after minor work was completed on one of the apartments including a leaky faucet and repainting a ceiling.