December 05, 2012 - With its familiar teal top towering above the trees in Baycourt park, the Brady lodge is a well-recognized landmark in Independence Township, but it needs some TLC.
Preservation architect Ron Campbell, Parks, Recreation, and Seniors Director Ken Elwert, and Treasurer Paul Brown want to restore Brady Lodge in Bay Court Park. Photo by Mary Keck (click for larger version)
"The physical presence of this building is remarkable," said Ron Campbell a preservation architect, who presented on the Brady Lodge, its history, and its potential for restoration at the board of trustees meeting on November 27.
George Brady constructed the lodge in 1921 and eventually donated it to The Boy Scouts of America. Brady's family has a storied history. For example, George's grandfather, Brigadier General Hugh Brady, carried the first Michigan state flag and is the oldest person to have served in the U.S. Army.
While the lodge is associated with a rich history and has an attractive exterior, its roof and deck need to be replaced. Additional TLC needed to make the building useable includes cleaning, painting, door restoration, and lighting. Campbell estimated the total cost of such a project between $250,000 to $260,000.
Despite the Brady family's intriguing history, which dates back to the Revolutionary War, Campbell encouraged the township to use the lodge, if restored, for practical and even revenue-producing purposes rather than as a museum.
"I'm a preservationist, but I always feel that there has to be some practical measure," he said. "At all costs, I like to see something that can generate cash flow at least in a minimal amount that would help to maintain the restoration."
Because the building is not heated, Campbell suggested using the lodge for seasonal events such as farmer's markets, outdoor concerts, or art and craft fairs that might generate money for the township.
For some, the Brady lodge holds a different value, however.
"When I was eight years old, I attended this camp. It was my first time away from home, and I spent a week there," said Treasurer Paul Brown. Since the Brady lodge's erection, the building was a favored camping site by the Boy Scouts of America.
Brown, who was a Boy Scout, described how "all the memories came flooding back" when he walked through the lodge in Bay Court.
Campers were served meals in the building when Brown attended, and he suggested others with memories of camping in Bay Court park would be willing to help with fundraising to restore the Brady Lodge.
"I really would support finding a way to keep this building standing and to put it back into use," said Brown. "There's a lot more people like me who would support this."
Right now, the lodge is only used for some equipment storage, but "it's becoming a safety risk," said Parks, Recreation, and Seniors Director Ken Elwert.
"We've got an exponential problem in that if we don't do anything, it's going to get exponentially worse," Trustee David Lohmeier summed up.
He mentioned concerns about the building's lack of heating and bathrooms, and pouted out, "we have to have a business model that works year after year."
"At the minimum, we're using it for a storage facility for all of maintenance equipment, so if the decision is made to gut it, we still have to put a boatload of money in a facility to store our equipment," said Supervisor Pat Kittle.
Tearing the lodge down would cost about $56,000 to $60,000 and building a new facility at the same square footage could amount to $1.1 million, Campbell estimated.
In a unanimous vote the board allowed Elwert to solicit bids for roof repairs to the Brady Lodge as part of the Parks, Recreation, and Seniors Capital Improvement Plan. View the township's CIP on www.twp.independence.mi.us and watch "Seeing Green" on clarkstontv.com to find out more.
Clarkston News reporter