Displaced: Ishpeming Senior Center facility to close

The Ishpeming Senior Center at 324 Pine St., is pictured. The Ishpeming City Council voted at a special meeting on Tuesday to begin “eviction” proceedings in compliance with an order from Marquette County Building Codes inspector Paul Knox, who, after an inspection in August, deemed the structure unsafe. (Journal file photo)

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming Senior Center, at 324 Pine St., at least the building that houses the organization, will close its doors in a little over a week.

During a special meeting on Tuesday, the Ishpeming City Council voted unanimously to close the facility due to safety concerns.

“The council voted to comply with the orders of Marquette County Building official Paul Knox to close the senior center,” Ishpeming Mayor Karl Lehmann said in a phone interview today.

According to a letter from Knox to the city dated Sept. 4, he inspected the structure to determine whether it presents a fire hazard or is “otherwise dangerous to the safety of persons or property,” at the city’s request.

Knox stated in the letter that he relied on the International Property Maintenance Code to determine the condition of the structure.

“Upon review of the RG Designs May 18th 2015 Property Condition Report, follow-up letter dated July 31, 2019, and my August 26, 2019 inspection, it is determined that the structure is an unsafe structure,” Knox’s letter states, “as defined by the IPMC, and therefore meets the definition of blight… As a result of my determination, the structure must be condemned in accordance with IPMC Section 108, Unsafe Structures and Equipment.”

In a report accompanying the letter, Knox cites “Blocked aisles and passageways, walking surfaces warped and do not provide adequate means of egress; Concrete floor is displaced causing trip hazards throughout the structure creating trip hazards in egress path Interior bearing wall carrying floor system of story above compromised, connection beams dislodges and partially detached, vertical and horizontal cracks evident in wall coverings indicating failure of interior partition walls.”

Lehmann said the city has been working “diligently” with the senior center officials to find an acceptable alternative location, including the newly-renovated Phelps Square.

“One of the options was Phelps and we have explored others,” Lehmann said, “but not deeply because there are not that many options that we were aware of.”

Ishpeming Senior Center Director Elyse Bertucci said in a phone interviews that the Ishpeming Area Commission on the Aging had not met as of press time today, and she was unsure where the facility would move to.

“We are going to solve the problem the best we can to make sure that the seniors we serve do not have a disruption in services,” Bertucci said. “At this time it is completely up in the air. We actually have a lease with the city up until 2021.”

In August the council adopted a resolution and approve submission of the $2.2 million grant application to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which administers Community Development Block Grant requests got a new multipurpose building at 121 Greenwood St.

The county inspection, Lehmann said, was a requirement of the grant application.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.