BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, NEWS EDITOR
A piece of Boyne City history could make a stylish and useful comeback after being out of commission for decades.
The Boyne City Commission voted 4-0 last week to have the city’s enormous antique 1904 clock, built by E. Howard & Co., examined by experts for nearly $4,000.
“I think this would be a great addition to the city facility project,” said Boyne City Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Delbert “Gene” Towne during the Boyne City Commission’s regular Tuesday Nov. 24 meeting. “I’d like to see an estimate on it, of course, and public feedback, but I support the recommendation.”
According to a Nov. 20, memo from Boyne City Manager Michael Cain to the Boyne City Commission, the 111-year-old clock resided in its original wooden tower until 1951, when the tower was demolished.
It then lay dormant for years before the clock was erected in a metal tower at the Northwestern State Bank property. A Huntington Bank is now in that location.
The community timepiece was then stored in former Boyne City Police Chief John Talboys’ garage since around 1997.
“The sooner we can get an estimate, the better,” said Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom… “I’m in total favor. I think it’s the centerpiece for our new city facilities and it’s a very important piece.”
Boyne City Mayor Tom Neidhamer noted that the clock tower was part of the original concept the taxpayers voted on when they approved the millage to pay for the city facilities improvement project in May of this year.
In his memo, Cain said he and the city’s lead on the facilities improvement project Ray Kendra of Environment Architects have contacted a number of companies regarding restoration of the clock.
“After following up several leads, it appears that the Balzer Family Clock Works, of Freeport, Maine, would best meet our needs in terms of both price and quality,” Cain stated in his memo. “We have had in-depth conversations with them, and the project seems viable. They have restored several clocks nearly identical to ours.”
He added, “I have personally seen their work at the Grand Rapids Museum, where they brought a clock—different than ours—that was found in a dump, back to life. However, until they can inspect our clock in-person, they cannot prepare a detailed or firm proposal.”
The cost to have the clock inspected has been estimated at $4,010.
At an earlier meeting concerning the city facilities project, Cain and Kendra said prices to have the clock fixed have been estimated at between $75,000 and $125,000.
“Based on discussions with our bond counsel, it appears that the costs associated with the clock restoration, including the visit, could be reimbursed to the general fund, which would pay the bill now, by the overall project bond proceeds after they are sold, if there are sufficient funds available and if desired by the city commission,” Cain stated.
Neidhamer said the city commission would have to decide whether it wants to pay for the clock’s repairs from the city facilities millage.
To see some of the Balzer Family’s work, go to www.balzerclockworks.com.
The motion to have the clock examined was unanimous. Boyne City Commissioner Hugh Conklin and Boyne City Manager Michael Cain were both absent from the meeting.