By Mike Kruzman /

Newfound interest in a troubled Whitmore Lake building has caused a delay in the decision to demolish it.

The Northfield Township Board of Trustees has spent several years trying to secure any number of fates for the old fire hall building at 75 Barker, with several false starts along the way. There has been an interest across multiple Boards to at least secure the parking area at the site for downtown businesses. In January they put out an RFP for demolition of the building, which has been revealed by a previously interested party that it is in severe need of indoor repair work.

With those bids open and one set to be awarded the project, multiple businesses owners from the area came to the Board’s meeting this week with their own proposals. During public comment, the owner of a local party store was prepared to offer $85,000 cash to turn it into retail and apartment space. A restaurant owner said her family has a million dollars to buy and renovate the space, but they would need the parking. A third request was made by an automobile sales company.

Township Manager Mark Lloyd said that after opening and vetting the bids, they were recommending awarding the contract to Simply Construction for amount of $40,513. Supervisor Ken Dignan made the motion. Trustee Janet Chick seconded, and offered a friendly amendment to delay the demo for 30 days to give the business owners time to submit formal proposals. As part of the RFP, contractors were required to hold their price for 120 days.

Dignan said he couldn’t support the amendment. He noted that the township vacated the building 12 years ago and has sold it 3 or 4 times, with it coming back to the township each time. Dignan said the people that came forward with interest at the meeting had been encouraged to come forward before during other RFPs, and that sometimes tough decisions need to be made.

Treasurer Jacqueline Otto seconded the amendment which passed 4-1. This transformed the motion into one that awards the demo bid to Simply Construction, but also put a 30-day delay on to allow for new submitted proposals.

Dignan then called to question, but that failed. Board members then considered other low bidders, as there were concerns about Simply’s ability to perform the job. Otto had concerns with the size and revenues of Simply Construction. Trustee Josh Nelson agreed, and Chick noted that it’s not always best to go with the lowest bid. Lloyd said they did a comprehensive review and felt Simply was still a reliable bidder. Dignan withdrew the motion for Simply and made one to go with Blue Star, who he felt the Board felt more comfort with, for $51,900, after at least 30-days. The motion carried 3-2.