A one-block section of South Stevens Street in Rhinelander was closed for a few hours Thursday afternoon, something area residents have grown accustomed to as of late. However, this closure was not related to the downtown streetscape project.
The street was blocked off because the Kabel Auto building was finally coming down.
Public works director Tim Kingman said the city acquired the roughly 100- year-old building this spring, after years of work.
Key to the project was the acquisition of a $100,000 Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation grant to demolish the building.
It was only after the grant was secured that the city closed on the property.
An $81,000 grant from the Cleary Foundation paid for the parcel.
The total cost to bring the building down is around $200,000, with the city chipping in the rest.
The building stood next to the vacant lot that once housed Lindey Cleaners which was demolished several years ago, causing environmental contamination that may have migrated under the Kabel building. Kingman said it is still too early to tell if that is the case, but the other environmental issues such as asbestos were remediated before the demolition process began.
"There were various things that had to be dealt with," Kingman said. "A specialist came in first to identify it, then another outfit came in and did removal."
The WEDC grant doesn't cover environmental cleanup, and if significant soil contamination is found, Kingman said the city could seek money from the Environmental Protection Agency to help pay for that.
"It's to early (to tell if there is soil contamination)," Kingman said. "There's been some suspicion that there could be some problems environmentally under that building. As we do removal of the floor and further work on this, we'll be screening to see if there is anything we can do to the site."
When the Lindey building came down the extent of the environmental contamination from the cleaning solvents and other chemicals was discovered to have traveled under the neighboring building, he explained.
"We worked with the DNR to make sure we were doing the right things to minimize the contamination, working toward having a stable site," he added.
While the bulk of the building came down on Thursday afternoon, the demolition started late Wednesday in the rear. Now that the building is a pile of rubble, the work to get it removed will take up to a week. The plan is to leave the majority of the foundation in place, fill it in with dirt and then cap it with gravel, the same process that was used with the Lindey building.
Kingman said he is already working with members of the Rhinelander Community Foundation and Forward Rhinelander to design a parking area that may encompass some green space or other multi-use capabilities.
"I can design a parking lot in about five minutes and tell you how many parking stalls will be in it," he said. "But we're looking at Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison for ways to give it some alternative uses."
There is no rush for this part of the project as the vacant lot will be allowed to settle until next summer to avoid the city having to go back and repair anything. This gives the many groups and the parking advisory committee time to come up with the best possible use for the space.
"I've learned recently that you need to start planning early," Kingman said.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce