ThedaCare makes new pitch on SMC property sale

Council has 3 options to choose from

Less than two weeks after a spokesman said ThedaCare would abide by the city’s decision on splitting proceeds from the sale of the former Shawano Medical Center property, the hospital is back to pushing for a larger cut of the money.

ThedaCare sent a letter to the city Friday reiterating its support of a deal negotiated with the city that was subsequently rejected by the Shawano Plan Commission. ThedaCare also offered a third option for the city’s consideration that would still grant the hospital a larger share.

Tadych Investment Partners LLC of Green Bay is proposing buying the former SMC property for $500,000 for development of a luxury apartment complex.

ThedaCare owns about 3.8 acres of the property, while the city owns about 2.9 acres.

The plan commission on June 28 rejected a deal that had been negotiated between ThedaCare and city staff that considered expenses as well as the amount of property owned.

ThedaCare had incurred some expenses the city had not incurred in marketing the property and preparing the site for sale, including $975,000 to demolish the hospital building and restore the site to green space.

That would have given 71.4 percent of the proceeds to ThedaCare and 28.6 percent to the city, which would have worked out to $356,916 for ThedaCare and $143,084 for the city.

The commission instead opted for a split based only on the amount of property owned by each entity. That would work out to $284,583 for ThedaCare and $215,417 for the city.

In the letter to the city from ThedaCare Senior Vice President William Mann, ThedaCare suggests splitting the difference between the amount negotiated with city staff and the plan commission’s recommendation.

Under that option, ThedaCare’s share would be $320,750 and the city’s share would be $179,250.

The Shawano Finance Committee on Monday considered the new option and came away with a split vote.

Alderwoman Sandy Steinke, who chairs the committee, voted in favor of ThedaCare’s new offer, while Alderman Bob Kurkiewicz voted against it. Alderwoman Rhonda Strebel abstained.

The new offer will give the Shawano Common Council a third option to consider when it meets Wednesday, when city officials will vote whether to go with either the negotiated deal, the plan commission recommendation or the new split ThedaCare is proposing.

“It’s going to be up to the council to make that decision,” Mayor Ed Whealon said.

Whealon doesn’t have a vote on the council unless there’s a tie, but, he said, he continues to support the plan commission recommendation.

“I think the city kind of got backed in a corner with this whole negotiation,” he said.

The deal rejected by the plan commission was negotiated before Whealon became mayor.

Whealon said that in researching the matter it was understood ThedaCare would absorb the costs of razing Shawano Medical Center and not include them in the split of sale proceeds.

That would seem to be backed up by plan commission minutes from March 2016 and a resolution that same month that states the city’s understanding that ThedaCare would demolish the building at no cost to the city.

Former CEO of ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano Dorothy Erdmann also issued a press release that same month indicating ThedaCare would cover the cost of demolition.

“We are taking steps to honor our commitment to the community to not allow the old building to languish and become a burden,” she said in the press release. “ThedaCare will spend the money to take down the building, as we promised.”

ThedaCare spokesman Jeff Remsik said in an interview after the plan commission’s vote that there would be no opposition to the commission recommendation.

“We respect the decision of the plan commission and that’s what goes to the Common Council,” he said. “We respect the decision of the council and it’s their prerogative to make those kinds of changes.”

Whealon said he was surprised by the new letter from ThedaCare.

“Now they’re drawing a line in the sand again,” he said. “How long does this go on? That’s going to be the question the council’s going to have to take a look at.”

Whealon said that ultimately a decision will be made in the best interests of the taxpayers.

“From our perspective, I think we’re doing everything we can for the taxpayers, with the taxpayer in mind, to try and do the best thing for the city,” he said.