CARSON CITY — The Kellogg Elevator Co., which decades ago stood as an agricultural beacon for business in Montcalm County, remains (barely) standing today, a ghost of its former self.
With splintered wooden beams creaking in the wind, shattered windows lining the walls and various metal and concrete debris scattered throughout the property, the last two years of demolition attempts at the abandoned site have left it looking no better than when those efforts began.
In the autumn of 2013, the Carson City Council and former city administrator Mark Borden reached an agreement with property owner Dennis Kellogg to have the structures demolished. The site at 818 N. Division St. consists of three grain elevator buildings and multiple grain silos.
The agreement was reached after the city condemned the buildings and created a dangerous building ordinance.
To avoid a legal battle with the city, Kellogg hired Richard “Wayne” Garlick of PresCon Industries Inc. in Rockford to perform demolition work. After a slow start, council members grew concerned in the spring of 2014 when it appeared no work had been performed.
At the time, Garlick said an employee’s illness combined with a harsh winter resulted in little exterior demolition work being performed. Once warmer weather arrived, Garlick proceeded with demolition and removed several grain silos and began demolition of one of the three grain elevator buildings.
But over the past year, council members again say they have witnessed little work being performed. All three grain elevator buildings remain.
“He’s not under a contract with us, it’s just a mutual agreement,” Carson City Mayor Bruce Tasker said. “He (Garlick) is a good fella, he’s polite and respectful, he’s been here in person to speak with us, but the job hasn’t been finished.”
Tasker said he’s under the belief the fluctuation of scrap metal prices have a direct result in the lack of progress with the demolition.
“Last year they did a nice job, of course they took down all of the (silos) so they could sell the steel, as steel prices were up,” he said. “Well, now steel prices are down.”
Tasker said he communicates with Garlick about once a week and has been given multiple excuses for why the demolition work has not been completed.
“Every week, it’s ‘we’ll be there next week,’” he said. “But we haven’t seen anybody lately. It’s been since last autumn in 2014 since we’ve seen any work.”
According to Garlick, he has partnered with Barn Cats Restoration in Rockford to assist in demolition work, and says “a number of reasons” have contributed to the lack in progress.
“They are not involved with it yet, but we’re in the process,” he said. “We’re going to take it down, but they’ve got like 30 jobs going right now. We’re trying to get this straightened around. When they come in and tear (the first grain elevator building) down, it will come down in a day.”
Garlick doesn’t anticipate any demolition work occurring until January, when he believes equipment will be available for him to assist Barn Cats Restoration.
“This lumber is pretty good in these buildings, that’s why we haven’t done anything with it yet.” he said. “They will take it apart and save it so they can use it later to restore other barns.”
Despite missing the original deadline, Garlick said he is determined to finish the demolition work.
“I’m not trying to beat this further down the road, I’m not trying to sell you a story,” he said. “We thought this was going to happen two months ago, but there’s no way to get around problems.”
Garlick said after the first of the three grain elevators is demolished it will be about six months before he will resume work on the next structure.
Garlick did not dispute Tasker’s claim that scrap prices have decreased, but said that has not contributed to his efforts.
“Scrap metal prices don’t have anything to do with it,” he said. “We got good money out of scrap so far, but we don’t care what the scrap metal price will be on the rest, we’re just going to get rid of it.”
Patience wearing thin
According to Carson City Administrator Jean Southward, as long as Garlick continues his demolition on the property, city officials will be satisfied — but only if it continues in the short term.
“If things don’t start happening soon, I’m assuming we’re going to have to take action,” she said. “I want Mr. Garlick to commit and follow through with what he has said over and over again. He has given us multiple timelines, but he hasn’t followed through on any of them. If this doesn’t pan out, we will have to pursue other action.”
Southward said any action taken by the city would first need to be discussed by members of the council, but she would rather not have to resort to legal action.
“When you’ve lived here and you get so used to seeing it, you forget what an eyesore it is until you go out there, park across the road, and realize, this is dangerous,” she said. “There are dilapidated structures out there … it could be a horrible liability for (Kellogg), and I don’t wish Dennis Kellogg any ill will, but it is dangerous out there.”
Garlick said the last thing he wants is a legal battle.
“We’re not trying to run out on anything, but boy it sure hurts when you don’t have everything you need to get the job done,” he said.
A dream of new industry
Dennis Kellogg, who lives in Ithaca, but maintains his residence north of Carson City, still has dreams for his property to be utilized for new industry.
“Our goal is for our properties there in Carson City to become very productive for the community,” he said. We want to find something that we can build there that provides good paying jobs … that’s always been our goal. That’s always been our intention, and it still is.”
Kellogg said he has long been working to bring a new form of industry to Carson City and hopes to utilize the functional but closed railway that connects Carson City to Ashley in Gratiot County.
“Our hope is to attract other industry in there … some kind of manufacturing (business) that may use railroad,” he said. “That’s the only rail that comes into Montcalm County. If that’s important to anybody, it seems like that would be an attraction right there.”
Kellogg said he understands the concerns that the site is dangerous and does not reflect well on the city, but as long as Garlick is working on demolition, he is content.
“I feel (the council’s) frustrations as well, and if we had a prospect to partner with, to build some form of job producing entity, it could happen a lot sooner,” he said of the demolition.
Kellogg, who previously served as president of Carson City’s Chamber of Commerce and was one of the committee members who helped to bring the Carson City Regional Correctional Facility to town, said he only wants to better the community with his property.
“That’s what we want to happen, that’s always been a goal,” he said. “I love Carson City, it’s a wonderful place.”