www.mybaycity.com January 22, 2019
Community Article 11447

VETS GROUP: Makers Space/Learning Center Being Developed

Fundraising Underway for Community Gathering Place

January 22, 2019
By: Dave Rogers

The Bay Area Veterans Makers Space/Learning Center is being planned by the Bay Veterans Foundation to provide a place for veterans transitioning from military service back to civilian life, and for older veterans to serve as mentors, in a recreational setting.

"By offering a safe, welcoming environment, veterans will have the opportunity to focus on assisting veterans to develop positive social contacts and be introduced to activities to which they may have never been exposed making the adjustment to their former life to be far more beneficial than their current 'homecoming'" said Keith Markstrom, president of the Bay Veterans Foundation (BVF).

"In this recreational setting, other veterans will serve as mentors and volunteers will share knowledge or expertise through a variety of programs. We believe "hands-on" activities will greatly assist in the reduction of mental health issues such as depression; alleviate problems of those diagnosed with PTSD; and reduce the use of alcohol and other harmful substances allowing the veteran to be more productive in their civilian life."

Bay County continues to have one of the highest numbers of veterans per capita of all counties in Michigan. Estimates indicate that approximately 600 veterans are female among an estimated 9,000 veterans.

"We believe these defenders of our freedoms deserve more than merely a discharge from serving in one of the branches of our military," said Markstrom.

Upon completion of the Battery Park renovation in 2016 and dedication of the Michigan Gold Star monument in 2017 the Foundation began searching for available buildings nearby in order to assist in maintaining these important facilities.

BVF purchased the property at 1009 N Madison, Bay City in August 2018. Since then a number of actions have occurred. A quick summary includes:

Phase I and II Environmental Studies by AKT Peerless determined the presence of underground soil contamination from a former gas station, as well as asbestos in the building structures.

Through Bay City's Brownfield program the site was qualified for remediation by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Two grants are in process to remove and replace contaminated soil and asbestos-containing materials from both buildings.

Contracts have been bid for asbestos removal, and contracts will be let in late January for the parking lot contamination.

WTA Architects and MacMillan Associates are determining infrastructure needs and space planning.

The oldest part of the main building -- estimated to have been constructed pre-1900 -- contains metal ceilings and maple tongue and groove flooring presumed to have been milled locally as the bottom side is imprinted "Bay City, Mich". It is hoped some of these elements can be saved and restored where possible.

A capital campaign for renovation and reconstruction of the structures in addition to the start-up operations will be launched in the Spring.

BVF will be holding community meetings for veterans and community volunteers who are interested in working with the project. If you have the desire to be part of this initiative please email your contact information to Barb Behmlander at barb.behmlander@gmail.com.

A few task forces that may be of interest are: Publicity & Communications; Programs & Projects; and Fundraising & Resource Development.

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