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Park Board denies hospital land swap

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River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The city of Hudson Park Board has unanimously rejected a Hudson businessman's plan for a luxury townhouse development on the site of the old Hudson Hospital.

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Board members weren't convinced that swapping roughly three acres of the former hospital property for a couple of acres closer to the bluff overlooking the St. Croix River valley was good for the city, according to Parks Superintendent Dan Roeglin.

The vote came at the Park Board's Oct. 5 meeting.

John Kremer had proposed constructing 70 condominium units in five buildings on the old hospital site. The plan was for three of the buildings to be located on what is now city-owned property closer to the bluff line.

In return for the land, Kremer said he would develop a garden and art park on the old hospital site and give it to the city.

Park Board and City Council member Paul Radermacher reportedly moved to reject the offer, saying the land the city was being asked to give up was worth more than what it would get in return.

Park Board member Pat Casanova, who seconded the motion, said the city had turned down previous offers to purchase city parkland. Casanova reportedly said that if the city wanted to dispose of parkland (something he had no interest in), it would be better to sell it on the open market.

Other Park Board members voting to reject the offer were Chairman Donald Gilbert, Randy Lau, Randy Morrissette II and Jan Buege. One Park Board seat is vacant.

Roeglin said nine speakers addressed the Park Board prior to the vote, including Kremer and one other supporter of the proposed Liberty Hill Development. The rest were opposed to it, he said.

"The theme of most of the speakers was that the city would be setting a horrible precedent (by proceeding with the land swap)," Roeglin said.

He said the proposed land trade is dead as far as the Park Board in concerned. Kremer could still try to win approval of the plan from the City Council, but that is unlikely to happen, he said.

Kremer, the former general manager of the Hudson Chrysler car dealership, wasn't available for comment when this report went to press on Tuesday.

He joins a growing list of would-be developers who have offered plans for the old hospital property.

Delaware Hotels Inc., headed by Hudsonite David Bourdeau, bought the seven-acre site from Hudson Hospital last January. Delaware Hotels, in turn, sold the property to Jeff Siewert, president of Sieco Construction Inc. of Minneapolis.

Siewert demolished the old hospital and clinic, and proposed putting a four-level, 66-unit building on roughly the same spot.

He abandoned the plan after it got a cool reception from the city Plan Commission and surrounding property owners.

Siewert still owns the property. Kremer said he had an option to buy the land if his proposal was approved by the city.

Some neighbors of the site have argued that the city shouldn't change its current zoning for single-family residential use.

Randy Hanson can be reached at rhanson@rivertowns.net.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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