Historic District Minutes 08-05-2015

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                                  CITY OF MUSKEGON
                            HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION

                                         August 5, 2015

Chairperson J. Hilt called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. and roll was taken.

MEMBERS PRESENT:              J. Hilt, S. Kroes, A. Riegler, L. Spataro, L. Wood

MEMBERS ABSENT:               S. Radtke, excused; K. Panozzo

STAFF PRESENT:                M. Franzak, D. Renkenberger

OTHERS PRESENT:               D. Launstein, FRC&H Architects, 1515 Arboretum, Grand Rapids;
                              M. Ferriby, Hackley Library


A motion to approve the regular meeting minutes of April 7, 2015 was made by S. Kroes,
supported by J. Hilt and unanimously approved.


Case 2015-10 – 316 West Webster Avenue. Applicant: Hackley Public Library. District:
National Register. Current Function: Institutional. M. Franzak presented the staff report. The
applicant is proposing several renovations to the exterior of the building, including the following:
1) Exterior improvements to support ADA accessibility including renovated front steps, ramps
and gathering/resting areas, 2) New grading and plantings to integrate ramps into the landscape,
3) Relocation of existing signage and flag pole, and 4) Additional materials anticipated to be
concrete and color cast stone.

D. Launstein was the project architect. He stated that, in addition to the improvements listed in
the staff report, they are requesting to replace windows in the library and the Torrent House
located across the street at 315 W. Webster Ave. He stated that he would address the windows at
the end of the presentation. He gave an overview of the project, which was to convert the main
entrance of the library into a handicap-accessible entrance. Handicap access was currently
located in the back of the building off the alley. Plans showed a 100-foot walkway and ramp
leading from the rear parking lot to the front entrance, which would contain places for resting.
Berms and plantings would be used to reduce the need for guard rails and help the ramp blend
into the landscaping. Lighting would be unobtrusive and blend in historically. He explained that
they would need to reconfigure the entrance to the library to accommodate the ramp and
eliminate the large step at the front door. Renderings of the proposed new entrance showed the
front steps shifted more toward the corner of the building, a flower bed with adjacent bicycle
racks at the corner, and relocated light posts. D. Launstein estimated that they would need to
move 4 or 5 of the granite retaining stones, but planned to use them elsewhere on the property,
possibly as benches. They would also move the site’s historic marker closer to the front
sidewalk so it was more visible and relocate the flag pole to accommodate the new ramp. D.
Launstein also stated that, although the library had received permission to install new mechanical

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equipment in 2013, the work had not yet been done due to funding issues. They would like to
complete that work now, in addition to the ramp and windows.

A. Riegler was opposed to the substantial alterations in the monument steps in the proposed new
configuration, and asked if they had considered a more symmetrical entrance to the building to
more closely match what was currently there. D. Launstein stated that they had considered
different options, but felt that the one proposed was the best fit. L. Spataro stated that it was very
difficult to make an old building ADA-compliant, and since there was a height difference
between the landing and steps, some reconfiguration had to happen. He stated that dividing the
stairway into 2 parts rather than 3 may make the new configuration more closely match the
current one. A. Riegler asked what the railings would be made of. D. Launstein stated that they
would be painted metal steel posts with decorative finials. A. Riegler also asked that the
designers consider the landscape area in front so there wasn’t a big blank space there in the
winter. D. Launstein stated that they would be working with a landscape architect. L. Spataro
asked what type of hardscape materials would be used. D. Launstein stated that they planned to
use decorative concrete. L. Spataro pointed out the fact that the lower garden-level windows
were being covered up with a berm, and was concerned about the lighting in library’s basement
rooms. Board members discussed the configuration of the basement and concurred that the lack
of light from those windows shouldn’t cause a problem. L. Spataro also stated that the elevation
change made it appear that the building was shrinking. D. Launstein discussed some different
options they had considered, and stated that they would use low plantings to minimize the
appearance of a shrinking façade as much as possible.

D. Launstein discussed replacing the windows in the building, which was not listed on the HDC
application. He stated that the windows dated to approximately 1987, and were dry-rotting.
They wished to replace them with something closer in appearance to the original windows, and
stated that they would have new windows custom-made to fit the existing masonry openings. He
stated that the Torrent House across the street from the library was having the same problems
with their windows, and they would like to replace those as well. L. Spataro stated that the HDC
had previously allowed the replacement of non-original windows as long as the original window
openings and configurations were retained. A. Riegler asked if they would be removing the
original wood from the inside of the window frames. D. Launstein stated that they would not be
removing the wood on the inside, but the trim on the outside windows would be aluminum clad,
for durability.

Board members discussed the proposed changes. L. Spataro did not like the fact that the front
ramp buried the building a bit, but he did not see a good alternative. A. Riegler discussed
proposed language for the window replacement approval, and asked about the decorative
windows on the two buildings. D. Launstein stated that any decorative, leaded, or stained glass
windows would not be removed, only the ones with clear operable glass. On the Torrent House,
nothing would be done with the addition, only the original main building. Board members
concurred that there would be two motions: one for the ramp and design, and a separate motion
for the windows.

A motion that the HDC approve the request for the exterior improvements as described, to
include the handicap-accessible ramp with associated stairway reconfiguration and landscaping,
as long as all zoning requirements are met and the necessary permits are obtained was made by
S. Kroes, supported by L. Wood and approved, with J. Hilt, S. Kroes, L. Spataro, and L. Wood
voting aye and A. Riegler voting nay.
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A. Riegler asked what the timeline for window replacement was. D. Launstein stated that they
planned to do the Torrent House this year, and the library next year. A. Riegler asked if the
current windows were repairable. D. Launstein explained that storm windows had originally
been put on the inside, causing substantial dry-rot on the outer window frames. The windows
were now very degraded, and it was not feasible to try and repair them at this point.

A motion that the HDC allow the replacement of any existing, functionally operable windows
located at the Hackley Library and Torrent House with aluminum-clad wood windows, with the
following conditions: 1) that the original window configurations are maintained, 2) the original
sight lines are maintained as closely as possible to the original, and 3) the interior wood trim is
retained, was made by A. Riegler, supported by L. Spataro and approved, with J. Hilt, S. Kroes,
L. Spataro, L. Wood and A. Riegler voting aye.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:25 p.m.

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