Aspirus Riverview Invests in Healthier Future for Our Community
During my 2015 State of the City address, I shared a view on a “healthy” community – healthy from economic, governmental and citizen engagement points of view. On June 30 of this year, I was excited by the announcement of a literal display of community health: One of our community’s most visible institutions, Aspirus Riverview Hospital and Clinics, revealed investments it will make over the next two years to meet the growing health care needs of the community and ensure that patients continue to benefit from state-of-the-art care.
The organization will spend $25 million to pay for a new and larger emergency department and a new family birthplace center, with groundbreaking expected by early 2017. Aspirus Riverview will also remodel its facility to house a new cardiovascular institute by the end of this year, and to provide extra clinic space for more specialists by next year.
Aspirus’ announcement is great news for our community on many fronts. The most obvious benefit, of course, will be expanded access to quality health care for area residents. This also means that more health care spending will remain in our immediate area and people will receive care closer to home. In addition, we expect to see an increase in direct construction jobs, as well as new, long-term permanent employment.
This investment is a testament to Aspirus’ commitment to our community. As Mayor, I thank the organization and its leadership for demonstrating its confidence in the strides Wisconsin Rapids is taking to become recognized as a vibrant and prosperous city.
Kwik Trip Development Moves Forward with Permit Approval
In what I would call a classic example of balancing community and commercial interests, plans moved forward on June 21 for a new Kwik Trip development project. The Wisconsin Rapids City Council approved a revised Planning Commission conditional use permit proposal that added 18 new conditions designed to address health, safety and welfare concerns of neighborhood residents. The convenience store-gas station-car wash complex will be located along East Riverview Expressway, between Lincoln Street and Sixth Street South. City of Wisconsin Rapids Planning Commission meeting video from June 13, here.
Changes incorporated into the permit proposal included the construction of a six-foot fence along 6th Street, rather than the installation of landscaping and berm; and a City staff recommendation to move the proposed car wash away from 6th Street and closer to the store itself, to mitigate potential traffic and noise issue.
Recognizing also that intersection safety is of primary importance to the community, City staff and elected officials required Kwik Trip to hire a professional engineering firm to conduct a traffic impact analysis. This analysis then had to be reviewed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), City staff and an outside engineering firm contracted by the City.
Review of the traffic impact analysis by the City Engineering Department and WisDOT, along with meetings with necessary stakeholders and officials, were completed over the last several weeks.
A final draft of the traffic analysis review and resulting development agreement for any necessary intersection improvements was considered at Public Works Committee Tuesday and will be considered at next week’s Council meeting. Given the input of engineers who possess years of experience permitting, planning and overseeing such projects, I am pleased that the impact analysis and each party’s respective review has done much to clarify specific concerns and issues about safety. With that said, the city remains concerned and will continue to analyze the traffic issues south of the Expressway- at Lincoln & Daly.
It should be noted that, even though it has approved a development that is appropriate for the area, the plans must comply with the conditions established. Any further impacts will need to be worked out before a permit issued.
I thank everyone who weighed in on the proposal by Kwik Trip and for their interest in our community. Their willingness to agree to a variety of conditions demonstrates their desire to be a positive development partner with the City of Wisconsin Rapids, to expand its business profile while injecting jobs and dollars into the area.
Mark your calendar!!
The City is pleased to share options to invest in aquatics for generations to come! Tuesday, July 26 at 6pm in the Library Fine Arts Center (Theatre). The event will also be recorded and replayed on Wisconsin Rapids Community Media. (formerly RCCA)
Thanks for reading,
Mayor Zach Vruwink