Rhinelander City Council:
Pedestrian safety, low-income housing measures approved
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – Plans to bring additional housing to Rhinelander have moved a step closer to fruition. A developer has come forward who wants to convert the Rodeway Inn at 667 W. Kemp Street into low-income housing. The developer has been working with Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation representative Jim Rosenberg to secure a Community Development Investment grant. That grant, for up to $228,000, has been approved and Rhinelander Mayor Kris Hanus signed the agreement Dec. 13.
“We’ve worked with this one for quite some time and I know it was exciting for [city administrator] Patrick Reagan and me,” Rosenberg told the Common Council Dec. 11. “The developer is going to bring something very important here, which is some affordable housing. It’s not a tax credit project, but he is trying to watch his numbers and come up with some rents that are reasonable, so it’s adding to the housing supply.”
The developer, Rosenberg said, is looking at rental rates in the $700-$800 range.
“The city doesn’t have a lot of skin in the game, other than sponsoring support of the grant,” said Rosenberg. “So we don’t have the leverage to say, ‘Well, you can only charge this much for rent,’ because that’s not what’s going on here; but I think I’m satisfied that he is committed to that.”
Rhinelander city attorney Steve Sorenson told the council he looked at the developer’s specs before it went to the WEDC, adding that if the developer asked $700-$800 for the apartments he would be doing fine with the project.
“He’s made adjustments and that according to what the state – and we’ve required – to make them legitimate housing for people with disabilities as well as people with lower incomes,” Sorenson said. “So it serves a very good purpose and it’s in a location that it will be a good project.”
In order for the developer to get the money, he will need to make draw requests and supply paid invoices for the work that was done.
Increasing pedestrian safety
A motor vehicle accident in October that involved a student walking to school, led Rhinelander Police Chief Lloyd Gauthier to look at pedestrian safety and what the city could do better. Gauthier, city administrator Reagan and Public Works Department Foreman Justin Ernst looked at certain intersections and met with the School District of Rhinelander.
Ernst sought bid proposals for two blinking school crossing signs that are solar powered and have a timer. The Council voted to approve the purchase of two signs for a cost not to exceed $15,023.50. The signs will be placed near the Harvey Street and Stevens Street intersection.
Gauthier noted the vehicle driver in the accident involving the student was not at fault. He said an investigation determined the child ran out into the road, unsupervised by a parent and didn’t stop and look for cars.
Decreasing traffic speeds
The Rhinelander Common Council also approved a proposal to purchase six radar speed signs for a cost not to exceed $18,550. The signs will be mounted on poles and located on Stevens Street at Ann and Gilbert streets; Timber Drive at Harvey Street and Baird Avenue; River Street at Maynard and Douglas streets; Davenport Street at Crescent and Hemlock streets; Kemp Street, west of the bridge; and mid-block on Woodland Drive.
Police Chief Gauthier said the locations were selected based on the number of speed complaints, pedestrian traffic, school zones and lack of sidewalks along with input from police officers.