BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, NEWS EDITOR
Renovation continues on the Boyne City Train Depot as owners Sara and Tim Manchester near their goal of the unique community art center they call “Create” at 151 Ray St.
The Boyne City Planning Commission voted unanimously, Tuesday Oct. 20, to approve a site plan amendment on the burgeoning project.
“The interior has been remodeled completely and they are looking for some exterior renovations,” McPherson said. “As you may recall, this particular building has some encroachments into the public right-of-way.”
McPherson said the deck area is anticipated to be reduced in size. But, the main reason for revisiting the site plan dealt with a dumpster enclosure which extends approximately 1.5-feet onto city property.
“One thing that was identified in looking at the plan is … that dumpster enclosure encroaches somewhat into the public right-of-way,” said McPherson. “I did recall that on the last plan that we looked at. And, when I pulled out the plan, it didn’t show that it encroached into the right-of-way.”
According to McPherson, Manchester’s drawing shows a property width of 44 feet.
“It’s obviously always been a 41-foot lot and, over time, that dumpster was built on that property and it was just never identified as public property,” he said. “I’m not sure when it was built. It’s been there for a long long time but it is one additional encroachment that we caught that we know now.”
McPherson said the plan has already been before the Boyne City Main Street Design Committee, which gave Manchester some initial feedback. The committee is expected to give a formal recommendation at a later date.
Manchester, the Founder and Executive Director of Create: Community Arts Studio, then discussed some of the improvements to the property, which was last used as a barbecue restaurant.
“Some of the exterior changes that are going to be most significant is the garage door element that will be brought in,” Manchester said. “That’s going to replace the bank of windows that used to be there. So, it’s just going to let more light into that area so we have more light in the studio.”
Create is a nonprofit “arts and social service organization connecting the members of the community together through the arts.”
Manchester’s vision is to provide time, space and materials for artistic expression in an “open studio model.”
Another element will include two round windows upstairs, which will also allow more light into the building.
“There’s some addition of a few windows on the outside but we tried to be really mindful of what the existing design was of the windows and tried to kind of give a more balanced presence of those windows, too,” Manchester said. “So, again, we gain light on the inside but I think it really improves the … exterior of the building.”
She added, “We also looked for ways to improve that deck railing area. In my opinion, it was severely over-built. It really takes away from the whole depot look. And, we were trying to kind of minimize that deck space but, also, considering we’re going to have children and families there, to still make sure it’s really safe.”
Manchester is also working on creating a continuous skirt with a chiseled stone look.
“We hope you view all these as major improvements to the property,” she said. “We’re not looking to make a lot of changes to it, necessarily, it really is more the issue of where we fall on the right-of-way property and making sure we’re doing the right thing and taking the right steps to get everyone’s approval.”
Manchester is also planning to add more greenery with planting beds, and improving the entrance.
The train car is currently encapsulated with a porch. Manchester wants to remove the decking, accent the main entrance to the building, and eventually renovate the the train car. A couple trees may also be planted on the property.
McPherson asked Manchester if the dumpster area could be reduced. Manchester said she needed to check with her designer on the issue of space.
On the backside of the building, an emergency exit will be created and some of the overbuilt structure will be removed, along with old restaurant equipment.
“It’s amazing how beautiful that building is when you let it just be the building and not everything else around it,” said Manchester. “There’s not a whole lot you have to do to it so we’re trying to … just go easy on it and just make kind of this area around it, clean it up and improve it.”
McPherson told Manchester to coordinate with the city’s street department to ensure the proposed trees are allowed.
Planning commission officials gave some suggestions on the block Manchester planned to use. They also suggested using a railing which better fits with Boyne’s historic character, and they told her to look into the possibility of sharing dumpster space with a nearby business.
Manchester said she is still looking at materials to use on the building. She also said she already talked with a nearby restaurant owner but does not feel sharing a dumpster will work for her uses.
McPherson recommended the dumpster enclosure be moved to exist only on the 151 Ray St. property or to seek approval from the Boyne City Commission to keep the enclosure in the right-of-way.
McPherson advised Manchester to attend the next design committee meeting and bring her final plan back to him showing what she plans to do about the dumpster.
A motion to approve the site plan amendment, subject to review and recommendation by the design committee and moving the dumpster onto the 151
Ray St. property or getting approval for an encroachment from the Boyne City Commission, was unanimously approved.