TRAVERSE CITY — Benzie County Building Authority members would like to see a new roof on the new Maples.

The taxpayer-funded new medical care facility in Frankfort was slated to open last fall, but remains closed because the building's roof sheets weren't sprayed with flame-retardant material, a requirement if the Maples officials plan to receive funding from a federal agency that pays most of its bills.

The decision to put a new roof on the building for $800,000, made May 7, came with a requirement that the project architect and insurance company pay for the new roof.

Maples Administrator Kathy Dube said she's glad building authority members made a decision, although she's worried it will be difficult to find a company to redo the roof.

"I'm just glad we're moving on," Dube said. "Right now it's the height of the construction season so it'll be hard to find a roofing company to come in and do a job."

Authority members could have opted for a $200,000 plan to spray the inside of the existing roof and set up a dry sprinkler system, but the solution also would require them to obtain a waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services every year.

Representatives from the architect, Southfield-based Edmund London and Associates, Inc., were not present at the recent meeting. They could not be reached for comment.

Benzie County Administrator Karl Sparks said board members wanted to move forward anyway. He said there's roughly $300,000 left over in the building fund and the county will have to find $500,000 somewhere else. He said the county could sue the architect for the funds.

"I think the board felt like they had to move forward, because the longer we delay, the longer the work gets put off and the longer we have to wait to get in there and we lose money every day," Sparks said.

The new $10.2 million building was approved by voters and will expand the facility from 62 to 78 beds and allow for distinct units for short-term residents and those with memory loss. About two-thirds of the existing building is slated to be demolished, but some facilities, like added offices and a therapy gym, would be in the remaining part of the building.

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