Local entities making joint plans for current hospital facility’s future

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The future state of the current Crossing Rivers Health facility (formerly Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital) at 705 East Taylor Street is unknown at this time. But the hospital is banding together with the city, school and local economic development groups to create a plan for promoting economic and community development at that location. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

The new eight-person Prairie du Chien Common Council decided, Tuesday night, to partner with four other entities, including Crossing Rivers Health, to create a plan to redevelop the current hospital facility at 705 East Taylor Street. The council will join forces with the hospital, the Prairie du Chien and Crawford County economic development corporations, and the Prairie du Chien Area School District in encouraging the hospital facility’s reuse in a manner that promotes economic and community development. If their efforts are unsuccessful, the collaboration may resolve to raze the facility and redevelop the site in a way that would complement the surrounding neighborhood and also encourage economic and community development.

“This is a joint effort to promote reuse of some or all of the current facility. It does not commit the council to any money,” City Administrator Aaron Kramer explained. He said there has been some economic development happening behind the scenes but little has materialized from those efforts.

“It has also become apparent that (once they move out) there’s sort of a deadline of about six months to do something with the facility,” Kramer added, “whether it be residential, commercial or otherwise.”

Mayor Dave Hemmer said, at this time, the Crossing Rivers Health Board of Directors is concentrating fully on efforts tomove its services to its brand new facility on the south end of the community.

“In the meantime, the other entities are considering what to do. They don’t want to leave it sit,” Hemmer said.

Alderman Ron Leys, who’s also a member of the Crawford County Economic Development Board, noted that the board has been discussing this situation for some time. Discussions have been quite vague, he said, but have included options such as a business incubator and even the possibility of Southwest Tech holding some of its classes at the site.

“We have to remember, this facility was built in 1957 and has had 11 additions, I believe,” Kramer added. “It doesn’t convert easily into, say, an apartment complex.”

The administrator pointed out that Crossing Rivers will have the final say on selecting what is housed there, but input from the other entities will be considered.

“We are just pooling our resources rather than going down different tracks,” he said, “so in case there’s a grant opportunity out there and the city can tap into it, we will do that.”

Other business
Following closed session, the council voted to hire Robert Neufuss, Jr. for the part-time position of water department meter reader.

A bid for the installation of a variable frequency drive at Well No. 4 was awarded to Winona Mechanical, of Winona, Minn., for $34,402. This includes the base bid and two proposed alternates. Funds for the project were included in the 2014-2016 capital fund. Co-Manager of Public Works Larry Gates said $45,000 was put into the budget for this project but he anticipates it costing closer to $37,000 once it’s all done.

A professional services agreement was approved with Vierbicher Associates for the city’s flood mitigation project.

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