LELAND — Steel I-beams and yellow straps girded the Village Cheese Shanty for its 100-foot journey to the Leland Harbor parking lot.
Spectators watched as the shanty was lifted and swiveled over to its parking spot, where it will sit for the next month while a new foundation is built for the historic structure.
“It’s amazing, the technology is amazing,” said Genevieve Thompson, of Maple City. “Quick and efficient. I’m thankful they’ll be able to preserve it.”
David Kareck, who owns the business, watched from the sidelines with mixed emotions.
“I’m glad it’s happening, but it’s 23 years of my life,” he said. “We’ll be good in the spring. We’ll be back up and running. We’ll be back stronger.”
The store closed for the winter in October, a couple of weeks earlier than usual because of water lapping over the floorboards.
But Kareck said it’s not the high water levels that are plaguing his business — it’s the seiches that take place several times a month.
Seiches are caused by strong winds and rapid changes in atmospheric pressure that push water from one end of a bay or lake to the other, forming a wave that sloshes back and forth for several hours or even days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The shanty was supposed to have been moved Monday, but the move was called off due to high winds.
“It’s very scary, exciting and much needed,” said Jane Larigan, a Leland business owner. “This high water is really a threat to Fishtown. If it’s not fixed Fishtown is going to be in the water and Leland will never be the same.”
Biggs Construction is the general contractor on the project; Kasson Contracting and Team Elmer’s moved the shanty.
The shanty will get a new concrete slab foundation and be raised about 16 inches. The work will take about three to four weeks, said Amanda Holmes, executive director of Fishtown Preservation Society, which owns most of the historic shanties.
Across the river the Morris Shanty, which is used for storage, has seen flooding and has lost part of its dock. When the Cheese Shanty is back in place, the Morris Shanty will get a new dock and pile foundation that will raise it about 15 inches.
Future projects include work to Carlson’s Fishery, replacement of some docks, a retaining wall, landscaping with native plants and a project that will divert water runoff that flows through Fishtown.
The cost is estimated at $2.5 million; nearly $1 million of that has been raised, Holmes said.
Thompson said the shanties are absolutely worth saving.
“That’s what’s so wonderful about Leland,” Thompson said. “We hold onto these shanties because we want them to thrive and succeed.”
Larigan said it’s Fishtown that gives Leland its character.
“It gives everyone an experience they can’t get anywhere else,” Larigan said.