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At the August 12th Culver Town Council meeting there was follow-up discussion on properties in town that “should be cleaned up”. The goals are laudable, though I’m aware there are extenuating circumstances in some cases mentioned. In other cases, it’s a personal decision and I’m not sure how far we should go with that. Many subdivisions have covenants that stipulated what color your house can be, what color your curtains can be and how long a vehicle can sit in your driveway. Neighborhood covenants are one thing since they are usually developed before people move in and are modified with the consent of the neighborhood association. Aesthetic choices are personal and I do take some issue to having those applied after the fact. While there should be limits on a property being allowed to become dangerous, I think there is some danger of trampling personal property rights when aesthetics are dictated.
As with all things, the Town Council needs to be cognizant of unintended consequences. They had a recent dispute on mowing with a property owner, so part of their discussion revolved around setting a maximum height for grass. The owner in question stated that in lieu of a lawn, he had a naturalized habitat with native plants. The Town made the judgment that this area was overgrown weeds and forced them to be mowed. Does that mean they’re going to require lawns? There are at least two properties in town that have planting beds in lieu of lawn. Who will determine whether those plants are acceptable? Who will determine if there is too much planting area and not enough lawn? Who will determine whether the grass is decorative (like some at our office and at the Town Hall) and therefore exempt from the height ordinance? In late summer when most lawns go dormant, will the random stalks of Buckhorn result in mowing orders? Part of the most recently annexed property on the south side of town has been left fallow. It’s currently returning to somewhat of a native prairie habitat. Will that be illegal? I may have to rethink my willingness to have some of my property annexed…
The discussion also went into the condition of buildings with people wanting enforcement of standards that included missing shingles and boarded up windows… clearly aesthetic issues, not safety issues. I found that discussion amusing considering we were sitting in the Town Hall… a building that currently has missing shingles, a gutter hanging loose on the front and boarded up openings on the north and south. (Would the bird’s nest visible in the picture to the left be considered vermin? There was another complaint about building openings allowing vermin to enter…)
A quick drive past the Water Plant and you can see an overhead door that is off track and not closed completely. Drive up to the entrance of the Sewer Plant and you’ll see a deteriorating shingle roof on a shed roof adjacent to the tanks. Drive by the Town’s Sewer Lift Station on Madison Street and you can see a boarded up window on the back side. (Does paint make it okay? How will you define when a boarded up window is objectionable?)
None of these things particularly bother me. What bothers me is that my property would not meet the standards being discussed and it seems unreasonable that the Town would exempt themselves. Easterday Construction has buildings with openings that are boarded up. We have a pole building that has access under the doors. Might the Town want to get its own house in order before pointing fingers?
I’m sure when I bring some of these things up, I’ll get the standard, “That’s not what I meant! You’re twisting my words… You know what I mean!” Uh, huh… But when you try and define it in legally enforceable language, it takes on a new life. Unintended Consequences…
In the discussion regarding WECS’s at the Culver Plan Commission last night, Plan Commission member, Ron Cole, made a very salient comment. “Just think about satellite dishes. They used to be huge at 6 and 8 foot in diameter. Look at them now. Who knows what WECS’s will look like in the future…”
Look for another post regarding this meeting coming out this coming Friday.
Picture Source: Ron Cole’s Facebook page
We completed work on the Culver Antiquarian and Historical Society Museum and Visitors Center this Spring. The project created space for them in the W. O. Osborn‘s old offices in the First Farmers Bank & Trust building in Culver. We haven’t done any work in the bank since its most recent incarnation as First Farmers Bank & Trust, but I remember working for Easterdays on projects there back when I was in college and I know there were multiple earlier projects as well.
The project involved adding walls and doors to create a segregation between the bank’s space and the Museum/Visitors Center. This was so bank security could be maintained when hours differed. A hallway was sealed off and an aluminum and glass partition wall created a separation in the lobby. While it wasn’t possible to bring make the existing bathroom accessible, we did create an accessible path between the lobby and the bathroom. The age of the bank building made it necessary to due various code updates such as adding exit fixtures along the accessible path.
Our contact for this project was George Duncan and we enjoyed working with him on this. As with all committees, there are challenges due to lots of opinions. George did a great job insulating us from those issues and keeping things moving smoothly.
One of the more interesting aspects of this project was their desire to create video viewing area. Since much of Culver revolves around the lake, they wanted to do this with a mock boat theme reminiscent of the old tour boats that used to be on the lake. (I remember the “Maxinkuckee” that was docked at the park when I was a kid and I remember the Doodle-bug which was a venture launched by Muelhausen’s. The Doodle-bug was the last tour boat I recall.) The boat was created with two half walls. We cut curved ribs to create a curved wall. We also cut curved wall caps and base plates to simulate a curve at the bow. The curves are subtle, but sufficient to give the desired effect. We then used shiplap siding to create the hull. One of our carpenters, Mugurel Stefan, did an excellent job with the millwork and construction of the boat. To be more economical and to put his touch on things, George came in and painted the shiplap siding at our shop. He also applied the polyurethane to the oak members used for rail and columns for the canopy. The Antiquarians provided and installed the canvas canopy at the top. Inside the boat we installed bench seating and a cabinet to house a DVD player. The cabinet sports a ship’s wheel to keep with the theme.
To further make the feeling authentic, we took used utility poles, cut them and installed them along both sides of the walkway by the boat to simulate pier moorings. 1-1/2″ jute rope wraps the poles and spans between them. The old wood floor was exposed also. As you walk in beside the boat, you seem to be on a dock. If anything, it came together better than expected. It’s always interesting what grabs people’s attention. We’ve received more questions about the pier mooring and the rope than anything else. They didn’t come close to the degree of difficulty involved with the curved boat walls!
The Antiquarian and Historical Society is a repeat client for Easterday Construction. We completed the construction of the pergola and lattice panels for Heritage Park. We did the buildout for their original home in the basement of the Carnegie portion of the Culver Library. The area had been relegated to basement storage and we upgraded it to modern museum space, installing wainscot, carpet, and electrical including lighting. Later we were called back to enhance the museum entrance where we installed a replicated portion of the park pavilions which were formally platform shelters for the train depot. We put a mural on the adjacent doors and installed artwork using double French cleats. We’re always glad when a client is pleased with our work and calls us back for round two… and in this case round three and four!
Easterday Construction Co., Inc. was pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Antiquarians again. In recognition of this, we were pleased to donate the pier moorings portion of the boat display to the museum.
Picture Source: Boat and Pier pictured provided by Jeff Kenney
I haven’t written anything about the Sand Hill Farm property in a while, but there have been some things happening there.
Last year the Town of Culver negotiated a new storm water easement through the property. There was an existing easement that ran diagonally through the property and exited through the Culcom property on Jefferson Street. The old easement wasn’t a problem when it was planned to be just farm land, but the new easement follows the property lines putting the majority of it within the setbacks. This frees up additional land for development. It also provides several access points for future storm water control within the property. I basically negotiated this as a no cost swap with the Town. They removed the old easement which was actually a county easement in exchange for the new easement. It worked out as a win-win for both parties. The easements allow access and road construction over them, etc.
Easterday Construction will be participating in Red Shirt Fridays again this year to show our support for our troops. All of our employees have been given red shirts like those to the right. Participation is voluntary, but on random Fridays all ECC employees wearing their red shirts get a $5 bonus. At the end of the summer, an equal amount will be contributed to Bugles Across America, a not-for-profit organization started by Tom Day of Berwyn Illinois to provide live bugle players for the funerals of service men and women.
Red Shirt Friday is a national not-for-profit organization that promotes recognition of those that serve in our armed forces and what they sacrifice for us. All of us at ECC are proud to show our support.