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City nixes hotel and water park

A request that the city of Hudson annex 12.3 acres of land for development as part of a major hospitality complex was unanimously rejected by the Common Council Monday night.

Council members said Douglas Rohde failed to convince them that the benefits of the proposed hotel, water park, shopping, restaurant and theater complex would outweigh the added congestion and burden on city infrastructure that it would bring.

"I don't see anything (in the proposal) that really shows a net benefit to the city," said Alderman James Mayer, who along with alderpersons Ronald Troyer and Scot O'Malley asked a series of pointed questions of Rohde and others there to support the project.

Rohde is hoping to build a proposed 140-bed hotel and water park on an abandoned highway interchange on the south side of Interstate 94 at Hwy. 35. It would be located on approximately 30 acres, 21 of which are already in the city.

Council members and a handful of citizens that were allowed to speak raised questions about the impact the complex would have on traffic, water and sewer facilities, noise and light pollution, and quality of life for Hudsonites.

O'Malley and Mayer were especially critical of the developers' reported claim that the complex would be of similar value to the city as the new General Motors parts distribution center scheduled to open soon in St. Croix Business Park.

O'Malley asked how a water park business that would pay a manager $50,000 a year and 19 part-time employees $8 an hour could be compared to an operation that reportedly will employ 140 people earning an average of $60,000 a year.

When Rohde asked O'Malley where he got those figures, O'Malley said it was from information on the proposed water park that Rohde himself provided.

Vivian Hart, who lives in the nearby Red Cedar Canyon residential development, also opposed the annexation. She wanted to know if the developers would be required to complete an environmental impact statement.

Hart also argued that the development shouldn't be approved before the city's comprehensive plan is approved.

Joining her in opposing the hospitality complex were Gordon Conard and John Squire.

Gordon said he is building a house in Red Cedar Canyon. "Is this a sustainable business?" he asked. "We don't need another business to come in and go down."

John Squire is a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has a church building next to the proposed hotel and water park complex. He said the complex would disrupt the sanctity of the church property.

Jim Meffert, a partner in DaMe Properties, owner of the site, defended the proposed development. He said the site along Interstate 94 is ideal for the proposed complex.

"The Lodge at St. Croix can be something the city of Hudson can be proud of," Meffert said. "The tax base alone is going to be enormous."

Alderman Mayer and other council members remained unconvinced. Mayer said the development also would contribute costs to the city.

Jim Benshoof of Benshoof & Associates presented the results of an analysis on the traffic changes that would result from the hospitality complex. He said the existing roads could accommodate with development, but recommended the addition of turning lanes.

Real estate agent Jim Keller also supported development of the complex.

Randy Hanson can be reached at

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.

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