HONOR — The question mark building is aptly named these days.
The nearly 100-year-old structure — with its gaudy question mark logo and even gaudier pink paint job in downtown Honor — is the focus of a new debate in Benzie County: what should the county and other local governments be doing, if anything, with condemned properties like the question mark.
"It's very bad," said Cliff Grostick, who oversees public works in the village of Honor, and who wants to see the question mark edifice cleared out because the structure's second floor might collapse.
"Safety is our biggest concern," Grostick said.
This week, Benzie County leaders are discussing what to do with the eyesore and other public nuisances like it because of age, poor construction or neglect. In the case of the question mark, the village and county waited and hoped for nearly a decade that the building's owner, Gary Henning, would do something with the blighted structure.
Henning lists with the county a post office box in Traverse City and an address in Florida. An attempt to reach him for comment was unsuccessful. He is not related to a Traverse City man of the same name.
Henning's lack of action led to its condemnation. Now, county Administrator Chris Olson and Commissioner Frank Walterhouse said the county is exploring a property maintenance code and will discuss the matter at the Feb. 19 Board of Commissioners meeting.
The hope is a code will help take care of the question mark building and other blighted properties.
"We are looking at establishing a process so we can take care of problems like this," Olson said. "I think there is a realization of what needs to occur with this building. It's likely it should come down in its entirety. The question is who is going to be responsible to pay for that to occur?"
Walterhouse remembers when the question mark building was a viable place. The building used to be a grocery store, a lodge, and at one point kind of artist's den.
Today it serves as shelter for cats, vermin, even skunks. Grostick said the interior is nasty and filled with trash.
"It appears everyone (who lived there) got up one morning, made breakfast and left," Grostick said. "There are still dirty dishes in the sink."
Olson said the county reached out to the property owner since 1999, but received no response to county and village concerns about the state of the building. The owner lists addresses in Florida and a post office box in Traverse City. The owner owes more than $5,000 in property taxes.
One option for the county is to work with the village to take appropriate legal steps to clear the way for a bulldozer to topple the question mark. The county could feasibly attach a lien to the property to pay for cleanup.
It's also possible the building may revert to the local tax roles through foreclosure.
"This is not about having the government come in to take care of something," Olson said. "It's about making property owners responsible for their property."
"What we also want to do is encourage our villages, townships and the city of Frankfort to consider a dangerous building ordinance, a blight ordinance, a junk ordinance and an ordinance for fire insurance withholding," Olsen said.
Walterhouse said the question mark's fate is an important one for Honor, where he believes better times are just around the corner. A new restaurant is about to open downtown. Other local businesses including a resale shop, and a plumbing and heating store are sprouting up. The Honor Area Restoration Project is seeking grants to help beautify the village and promote a long-term plan for growth and vibrancy.
"We have a recreation plan that's about to be released and presented to the Village of Honor," said Ingemar Johansson, a restoration project leader. "We have an education and training grant to improve our skills and know how of the community so we can be more self-sufficient. We are still only about two years into the project, and it seems like it's going slow, but a lot of things can't be done unless our plans are in place."
Grostick said millions of dollars in sewer upgrades have Honor on the upswing for attracting business. The village is improving its sidewalks to make the community more walkable and to connect downtown storefronts with the Honor Plaza shopping complex.
"Honor has such great potential; it's right in the center of Benzie County, and there are thousands of cars going through town every day," Johansson said. "We need to find a way to promote new businesses moving in, and to give people a reason to stop."
Village Trustee Richard Fast said community leaders want to veer from question mark to something more akin to exclamation point.
"We just want the village of Honor to look nice and be vibrant," Fast said. "We want to see a viable business there."
HONOR — The question mark building is aptly named these days.
FINAL: Evansville 4, Beach Bums 1
Evansville completed a doubleheader sweep of the Traverse City Beach Bums by winning the nightcap 4-1 at Wuerfel Park tonight.Continued ...
Prep sports scoreboard: 05/23/2013
A roundup of high school sports results from across northern Michigan:Continued ...
FINAL: Evansville 6, Beach Bums 5
The Beach Bums' comeback bid fell just short in game one of a doubleheader today against Evansville, as the Otters won 6-5 in seven innings.Continued ...
Accused stalker faces more charges
A Grawn man who already is facing stalking charges is accused of breaking into the home of the female victim and attempting to take her dog.Continued ...
END 4TH: Evansville 6, Beach Bums 1
Evansville scored four runs in the top of the fourth inning to give itself a 6-1 lead over the Traverse City Beach Bums in game one of a doubleheader today at Wuerfel Park.Continued ...
Victory for medical marijuana patients
Medical marijuana patients and advocates scored a victory after the state’s top court issued a decision on a long-running Grand Traverse County case.Continued ...
Parking lot argument chills Bardon's
Robin Bisel and Jean Cline licked ice cream cones at Bardon’s Wonder Freeze off Front Street and wondered how they’d maneuver through traffic when finished with their treats.Continued ...
Presidential Scholar has struggled with illness
Nicole “Niki” Tubacki doesn't remember much about her early childhood except for swinging outside in the sun.Continued ...
Man said to trade drugs for sex
A man arrested in Leelanau County for violating probation is accused of trading drugs for sexual favors with young women in Missaukee County.Continued ...
Car crashes into rocks near house
A Glen Arbor woman told deputies she fell asleep before she ran a stop sign and crashed her vehicle into a row of boulders near an Empire Township home.Continued ...
Local educators honored
The Outstanding Educator Award, sponsored by the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and TBA Credit Union, is given annually to a handful of public, private and parochial educators in the Grand Traverse region.Continued ...
Man enters guilty plea in assault
A man accused of beating his live-in girlfriend in East Bay Township pleaded guilty to assault charges.Continued ...
Memorial Day-related services in Traverse City region
Memorial Day-related services and programs in the Traverse City region:Continued ...
Clearing the Record: 05/23/2013
Because of a clerk’s error, an incorrect address was listed in a news brief in the Sunday Record-Eagle.Continued ...
- Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Beach Bums rained out
Tonight's Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Evansville Otters Frontier League baseball game has been postponed due to rainy weather.Continued ...
Traverse City steps up parking enforcement
Barb Meredith recently had an expensive downtown Traverse City breakfast, but not from anything on the restaurant’s menu.Continued ...
Snyder, GOP lawmakers agree to budget targets
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and leaders of the GOP majority in the Legislature reached a budget agreement Tuesday for next fiscal year that doesn’t include an expansion of government health insurance for low income-adults and puts Michigan’s unexpected surplus toward funding roads and K-12 education.Continued ...
TCAPS contract talks continue
Traverse City Area Public Schools educators picketed outside the district’s main office building in a display of opposition to TCAPS administrators’ proposed collective bargaining contract.Continued ...
Panera Bread is on its way
A Panera Bread franchise likely will rise in Garfield Township despite what some planning officials consider a stale project design.Continued ...
Woman retraces father's steps to Indian marker trees
Dennis Downes traveled 200,000 miles over three decades, a journey to locate Indian trail tree markers around the Great Lakes, including two in Traverse City – one at the Civic Center and another at a Washington Street residence.Continued ...
Police looking into assault find 960 pot plants
Investigation into a domestic assault complaint led Antrim County authorities to a "sophisticated" marijuana grow operation and nearly 1,000 plants.Continued ...
Man gets prison for heroin possession
An Antrim County man found in possession of about 20 packets of heroin will spend at least 18 months in prison.Continued ...
- Tuesday, May 21, 2013
FINAL: Beach Bums 10, Evansville 0
The game didn't go the full nine innings, but the Traverse City Beach Bums still won their home opener 10-0 against the Evansville Otters Tuesday night.Continued ...
END OF 6TH: Beach Bums 3, Evansville 0
The Beach Bums have extended their lead over the Evansville Otters to 3-0 after six innings.Continued ...
UPDATE: Beach Bums 2, Evansville 0 after three
Mother Nature sent some rain to Wuerfel Park for the Traverse City Beach Bums 2013 home opener, but it hasn't slowed them down. They lead the Evansville Otters 2-0 after three innings in a Frontier League baseball game Tuesday night.Continued ...
- FINAL: Evansville 4, Beach Bums 1