Board approves demolition bid for Huyser House

Timeline to teardown not yet set. Parks commission will discuss it March 20.
The Huyser House, 4188 64th St., photographed by a drone flown by Dave Grumney, Captain, Training & Health/Safety for the Graafschap Fire Department, on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. The holly trees will be preserved.

The clock is ticking toward the demolition of the 84-year-old house at Laketown Township’s Huyser Farm Park.

The township board on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, approved a demolition bid of $29,845 from Specialized Demolition Inc., 3793 136th Ave. in Hamilton.

No timeline for the tear-down has been announced.

The accepted bid has been sent to the Parks and Recreation Commission for action. The commission’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at the township hall, 4338 Beeline Road.

Township board Supervisor Linda Howell, Treasurer Jim Johnson and Trustee Patrick Dietrich supported the demolition funding. Clerk Amber Davis opposed the bid.

Trustee Jim Delaney, participating through Zoom, did not vote due to state regulations.

House history

The 1939 house of Manuel and Lilah Huyser came with the donation of the 102 acres that make up Huyser Farm Park at the corner of 142nd Avenue and 64th Street. Since the township acquired the land in 2001, the house has been empty, and the parks commission has not been able to settle on a use for the home.

A special committee in December 2022 concluded the house should be torn down.

The township building authority was then tasked with finding a “do-able” plan for the house and proposed turning it into a Living Legacy Center for multiple uses such as a parks office, history site or gallery. The parks commission, though, was unhappy with that proposal and sent a letter to the township board in opposition to the building authority plan.

In October, the township board responded to the parks commission comment by freezing all spending on the house and asking the township attorney to determine who had authority over the structure.

On Nov. 1, the township attorney said the parks commission has control over the house. The commission voted unanimously on Nov. 15 to tear down the structure. On Jan. 17, the parks commission approved the bid to demolish the house and sent it to the township board for a final decision.

Laketown Township resident Steven Ringelberg proposed leasing the Huyser House from the township, restoring it into a long-term rental and paying the township $6,000 annually with increases after the fifth anniversary. The parks commission was not interested in the plan.

Inside the Huyser House, 4158 64th St., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024.

The demolition work

The contract from Specialized Demolition includes the complete demolition and removal of the house including concrete slabs, footings and foundations. Asbestos abatement is included in the plan for $5,000. Well and septic abandonment is also included.

A root cellar south of the house and a nearby block wall will be removed as well.

“Care will be taken to not damage the holly trees located near the northeast corner of the house,” the company stated. “This may mean leaving a small section of the foundation wall during backfill so the roots are not disturbed.”

Parks Commissioner Dick Becker suggested in January that the township put in a picnic area or similar gathering spot on the site once the house is removed.