- Associated Press - Thursday, January 29, 2015

CAMBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A decision on what direction to take on the Irish Hills Towers’ fate will not come until at least the Cambridge Township Board’s March 11 meeting.

For the past several years, the towers have been at the forefront of the Lenawee County township’s monthly business agenda, according to The Daily Telegram ( https://bit.ly/1zjmFf4 ). Township officials have been trying to get the owners of the towers to make substantial repairs to the long-closed tourist attraction after the township declared the towers “dangerous structures.”

The Irish Hills Historical Society, the official owners of the towers, has been seeking grant funding and public donations to help finance approximately $300,000 in needed upgrades and repairs. According to irishhillstowers.com, the society has been able to raise about $80,000 since the fundraising campaign started in 2012.

Township officials and towers co-owner Donna Boglarsky have each had inspectors make assessments. In September, when a final decision on the fate of the towers seemed to be at hand, the township board voted to hold off with demolition proceedings after historical society member Kelly Flaherty presented a letter to the board from Scott McElrath, president of Dangerous Architects of Chelsea and a state of Michigan historic architect.

In the letter, McElrath wrote that, in his professional opinion, the towers are no longer structurally dangerous.

The first tower was constructed in the summer of 1924 and opened in October that year. Within months, the second tower was constructed just across the property line by a neighbor upset over the other observation platform being built so close to his land.

Both towers were among the first tourist attractions in the Irish Hills and proved popular for many years, particularly because of the rivalry between the land owners. The wooden structures were acquired by the Boglarsky family in 1976 and were operated until the end of the 2000 summer season, when the family closed them to the public. The towers were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

The township board has granted numerous extensions to the society and Boglarsky to make repairs that would remove the twin structures from the township’s “dangerous buildings” list.

In the fall, Boglarsky secured a $50,000 loan from OSB Community Bank against personal property to help fund ongoing renovations. Open windows and doors were recently patched up, support beams inside were replaced, and, in 2013, the towers’ rotting platform tops were removed and capped.

Other sources of funding have not been secured, however. Boglarsky said two grants the society applied for over the past few months were denied.

The society was also forced to pass on a lengthy grant application through the state office of historical preservation, Boglarsky said.


Information from: The Daily Telegram, https://www.lenconnect.com

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