Task force forwarding 2 plans for SMC property

Plan B includes razing hospital building

A citizen task force charged with finding a future use for the Shawano Medical Center will forward two options to the city’s Plan Commission, but not until heirs to the property sign off on changing a deed restriction on the property.

The task force met last week for the fifth time since it formed in July. The process took longer than expected after some members had reservations about the original proposal put forward by Vandewalle and Associates.

Vandewalle was hired by ThedaCare to help develop recommendations for re-use of the property in conjunction with the task force. ThedaCare is footing the bill for the real estate planning firm’s work.

In September, the Madison-based firm offered a conceptual plan that would be anchored by a waterfront supper club and lodge south of the property the task force was asked to examine. The design would require obtaining five properties south of SMC.

The existing SMC building would become a mix of senior housing, wellness center and community center. A row of residential town houses was also proposed to the north.

The hospital campus, including parking, stretches from West Second to West Fifth Street and from Bartlett Street to the Wolf River, where the Wolf River Beach is located.

The proposed supper club and a lodge with 30 to 40 rooms was envisioned south of Fifth Street on what is now residential property stretching to Green Bay Street.

Last week, however, Vandewalle offered a Plan B drafted after getting additional input from the task force.

The alternate plan would raze the hospital building to make way for condominiums and town homes, along with additional green space and a park shelter. Two single-family residential lots would also be created in the far northwest corner, along Second Street.

“Some members felt they wanted to keep that more of a family-type area,” said task force chair Jeanne Cronce, noting that the property is adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

Senior housing, the wellness center and the community center have been eliminated from Plan B. There would be a public path along the river, but Wolf River Beach would be discontinued.

Both plans, however, retain the proposed supper club and lodge south of the SMC property.

Boat slips are also proposed to bring boaters off the river to the supper club, and have been added to Plan B to serve the condominiums as well.

Cronce said that both alternatives are only plans at this point.

“There is nothing definite,” she said. “There is no developer. This just provides options for a developer to think about. So it’s still very tentative.”

Whatever ultimately happens with the SMC property may well hinge on the property’s heirs.

The site became home to Shawano Medical Center in 1931, in spite of a deed restriction saying the property had to be used as a park and would revert back to the heirs if used for anything else.

Officials have no explanation for why a hospital was allowed to locate on the property, and there is nothing in the record that shows the deed restriction was ever waived.

The property now home to SMC was originally part of a larger property owned by Andrew Smalley and later became the possession of his widow, Susan, who donated a three-acre parcel to the city in 1901, according to a news article in the April 30, 1931, edition of the Shawano County Journal about plans for a hospital on the site.

SMC purchased additional land for expansion over the years, and the hospital campus now occupies about 10 acres. The deed restriction applies only to the original three.

The city hired the law firm of Davis and Kuelthau to track down the heirs and get their approval to strike the park restriction from the original deed.

According to city officials, the heirs have been identified and are in the process of being contacted.

The task force proposals could go before the Plan Commission in January.