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September 24, 2019

8/10/2019 7:30:00 AM
Site plan for Aspirus Clinic addition clears planning commission
Project will double the size of the clinic, add office space

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

The City of Rhinelander Plan Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the site plan for an addition to the Aspirus Clinic building at the intersection of State Highway 17 and Stevens Street that would double the size of the building.

The plan was forwarded to the full City Council for final approval, however a planned Thursday evening council meeting was canceled after city officials learned there would not be a quorum of alderpersons available.

It's unclear if the site plan approval will be placed on the agenda for the council's Monday, Aug. 12 meeting.

Rhinelander fire chief and building inspector Terry Williams offered the commission a brief overview of the project before turning the floor over to representatives from Aspirus.

"This project has been in the works for the better part of two years now, meeting off and on with various representatives in the inspection department," Williams said. "This summer they came with this concept site plan and met with Tom Waydick, our commercial properties inspector and Theresa (Lassig, inspection department secretary) at the inspections office and everything was gone over and everything was in order. This past week, Mark Barden (of Town and Country Engineering, Inc.) reviewed all of the sewer and water easements, including storm water and erosion control, and Mark found everything satisfactory."

Williams said the only thing needed to complete the file is a plan for ongoing stormwater maintenance for after the project is complete. He also noted that the inspection department has signed off on the plan.

Vince La Barbera of Groth Design Group, the architect who designed the project, said the addition would be 21,670 square feet, all but doubling the size of the present building, which is 28,000 square feet. A final cost for the project has not been determined, he added.

Robb Fabich, Aspirus director of regional development, explained that the addition will be primarily for offices, as well as to give the clinic space for expanded services.

"The building is primarily to support our specialty practices, so what we'll be doing is creating more room for rotating specialists out of Wausau and any specialists we hire in Rhinelander," Fabich said. "We're running out of room in our existing facility. Our physical therapy department also needs more room to expand, so we'll be moving it over. We'll also be moving our sleep lab over from our cardiology building over by the hospital over into this facility, too."

Several members of the commission, along with city administrator Daniel Guild and mayor Chris Frederickson, said they were "thrilled" about Aspirus' plan to expand the Rhinelander clinic.

"The people in Rhinelander appreciate the effort to get health care furthered in the Northwoods," Frederickson said.

Artists renderings of what the building would look like were shown to the commission, with La Barbera and Fabich answering any questions from the group.

The main stone on the building will match the existing building, they said.

" (We will be) matching the stone and matching some of the window details and the window surround details and, obviously, the entry element on the east side," La Barbera said. "We have a canopy planned right now. It will be the same flavor of building."

To accommodate the expansion, the city abandoned a portion of Cherokee Lane, which has resulted in some unintended consequences for people who are used to exiting Highway 17 there to access the clinic.

"So with this project, what it allows us to do is take care of some way finding issues we are having with the building," Fabich said. "I don't know if you have gone to the clinic lately and ended up in the employee parking lot? That has become quite an issue for us when we vacated Cherokee Lane, because people would go around to the main entrance and currently our Google address points all the patients to the employee parking lot. So we're working with Google to get that switched."

As part of the project, Fabich said Aspirus plans to build roads through the campus where patients can enter from Highway 17 or North Chippewa Drive and be able to get wherever they need to go.

"It should help with our problem," he said. "The north entrance will be where the old Rusty Nail restaurant was. It will also go all the way around to the primary care entrance."

Fabich said that the expansion is needed.

"We have grown in this market, and we really need more space to continue providing services," he said.

The motion to approve the plan passed unanimously.

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