VanZee and Thorp Solve Cabin Demo Problem at Sea-Gull

The February 10 regular meeting of the Hayes Board of Trustees generated an almost perfect solution to the problem of removing 5 beyond-repair cabins on the lakeshore at Camp Sea Gull. For months the Board has been negotiating for the demolition of the cabins, and then weather and scheduling got in the way of tearing them down this past fall.

Complicating the situation are the severe budget constraints restricting the Board from moving forward with any major projects in the park except in a dire emergency. The condition of the 5 cabins comes close to that designation because the foundations are failing, there is a lot of rotten wood to replace, and bathrooms would have to be updated.

The Park and Rec Committee has been wrestling with the maintenance budget for all the Township parks, with only an $8000 allocation for the 2019-20 budget year and no more dollars in sight.

At the February BOT meeting, Fire Chief Dan Thorp of the Charlevoix Township Fire Department presented his annual report to Hayes Township. When Thorp finished, VanZee asked “Would you be willing to burn down those 5 cabins by the lake for us?”

Thorp said, “Yes, sure. It’s a good experience for the fire department!” VanZee explained that the Township wants to save the shower building that is close to the cabins and Thorp replied that it would be a good test of their skills.

Thorp would like to schedule the burn while there is still snow on the ground. The Township would have to plow out below the hill so that the fire equipment could be put in place. Thorp and VanZee will make the arrangements.

VanZee pointed out to the Sentinel that burning the cabins, while not cost free, will save the Township at the very minimum, $9000 in demo fees.

Chief Thorp also noted that the Township’s contract with the Charlevoix Township Fire Department is up for renewal in May of 2020. He does not expect it to exceed this year’s budgeted amount of $33,700. Thorp pointed out that last year there were 69 runs in Hayes Township. Some only required a few minutes but others required the Department to stay on site for several hours. The average cost of each run was $500.

The Board also discussed with Thorp that the Township needs to investigate whether or not to replace the heating system in the Fire Barn in lieu of constant repairs. The audience and the BOT had a hearty laugh when resident Roy Griffitts said, “Maybe you could auction off the right to set the cabins afire to pay for a new heating system for the Fire Barn.”

When asked about water reservoir tanks around the Township, Thorp reported that they don’t use the dry hydrants currently to refill the tanker truck. He gave the Board a list of the non-working hydrants. The Church Road, the Mulberry Lane, and Shrigley Road hydrants need to be unclogged and back flushed. VanZee will check with the local Tribe officials to see if they will allow the new boat ramp on Lake Michigan to be used in an emergency. Matt Lester has stated that he will fix the hydrant and tank at Michigan Heights.  VanZee said that the Fire Department will have access to Camp Sea-Gull’s lakefront except for the winter season.

Chief Thorp also appealed for some Hayes Township residents to become firefighters in his department. He acknowledged that dedication and service are part of the job as a volunteer. Family time is sacrificed, as well as a night’s sleep sometimes, as firefighters are on duty 24/7 when they are on the schedule.  There is also a 300 hour training requirement. It’s a serious commitmentment, but a personally rewarding experience.


CampSeagull cabin-1

Leaning toward the lakeshore and with no real foundation, this cabin is dangerous

CampSeagull cabin-2

Even the improvised foundations arc giving out

CampSeagull cabin-3

Bare bones interior, dark and smelly