NEWCAP eyes former hospital property

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Oconto County Board takes deed, immediately transfers it to the city

Times Herald Staff

Times Herald Photo by Warren Bluhm

The long-empty Oconto Memorial Hospital building at 405 First Ave. might soon have a new life as NEWCAP headquarters.

NEWCAP is in the process of acquiring the former Oconto Memorial Hospital property, which has been vacant for more than a decade.

The social service agency is interested in developing the old building to replace its current corporate headquarters at 1201 Main St., Oconto.

The building at 405 First Ave. has been on Oconto County’s tax delinquency list since 2008, when the developer stopped paying property taxes. The county has had the power to take a tax deed against the property since about 2012, but has refrained from doing so because the parcel is contaminated by a hazardous substance, Corporation Counsel Cheryl Mick told the Oconto County Board on Thursday.

Whoever owns the property at 405 First Ave. is liable for the environmental cleanup, Mick said.

The Oconto City Council met in closed session June 6 and authorized city officials to proceed with unspecified action on the property. Two days later, a letter was sent to Mick asking that the county take deed to the property and then immediately deed the property to the city, “which will happen today if you adopt this resolution,” Mick said.

“NEWCAP has a desire to develop the property and clean it up and all of that,” she said.

Administrative Coordinator Kevin Hamann told the board that NEWCAP has sent documents asking the county to support its application for funding to rehab the building using Community Development Block Grant funds. The issue would come before the County Board in July.

After receiving assurances that the deed exchange transfers liability for cleanup away from the county, the board voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

Founded in 1965, NEWCAP is a nonprofit community action agency that serves low-income families in 10 Northeast Wisconsin counties.