City council approves demolition contract for former Riverhouse
A former downtown tavern will soon be a pile of rubble.
On Tuesday night, members of the Medford City Council voted to hire Northern Group USA LLC of Cudahy to raze the former Riverhouse building located at 153 S. Wisconsin Ave.
Northern Group had the low bid for the demolition work at $35,716.68. Two other bids were received, with Northwoods Excavating and Demolition bidding $65,400 and Minocqua Grading LLC bidding $128,250.
Council member Clem Johnson asked for an explanation as to why there was such a range in bid prices submitted.
“I guess we just got lucky,” said city coordinator Joe Harris. He said they checked into the company. He said it was a smaller, one-person company based near Milwaukee, but that they are fully insured and have done projects in Lake Delavan and other areas around the state. According to Harris asbestos abatement on the building has already been done, and that the bricks and concrete from the building would be hauled to the city shop area like other concrete waste where it would be ground up and used for road base material.
He said the plan is for the city to backfi ll the property with waste dirt removed from the Pep’s Drive apartment building project. The area, which was purchased by the city last year will ultimately become part of the downtown park improvements. Funding for the demolition project will come from the downtown park project account.
While a project date for the demolition has not been set, Harris said he expects the work to occur sometime in mid-July.
A routine approval of the monthly building permit report and a recent social media post prompted a discussion about when permits are needed and how they are enforced.
City building inspector Bob Christensen issued 24 permits in May with a construction value of $1,745,453.43. Since the beginning of 2022, there have been 56 permits issued with a construction value of $2,661,855.50 which includes two duplexes at 905 E Broadway and Fore Development’s apartment building on Pep’s Drive.
Council member Laura Holmes noted a social media post from a city resident suggesting that an individual in the city did not have to get a permit for their deck project while other people have had to.
“Are we not policing when people do things and don’t get a permit?” Holmes asked.
Council member Ken Coyer said not everything has to have a building permit. He gave the example of a small roof repair he did on his home where he asked Christensen about a permit and told him it did not require one. “You have to check with Mr. Christensen,” Coyer said.
It was also noted that there is a dollar amount threshold for projects. Johnson said he sought a permit and because it was going to be under $2,000 in improvements he did not need to get one.
Mayor Mike Wellner said that people should contact city hall with questions about permits. He noted that he is getting a new deck on his home and clarified that he has a permit and that it is displayed in the window of his patio door.
In other business, council members:
_ Approved the annual compliance maintenance report for the city’s wastewater treatment plant. According to plan operator Alex Zenner, the city once again passed with a perfect GPA and “A” grades in every area. The only areas the plant has issues was with exceeding the suspended BODs on a handful of occasions. Zenner said the city is in the process of working to raise their BOD limits, which covers suspended solids in the wastewater, which will address the issue going forward. The discharge from the plant was not impacted by the increase in BOD loads.
In a related topic, council member Greg Knight asked about testing for so-called “forever chemicals” in the city wastewater and water systems. Zenner said the testing in wastewater is very new and it remains to be seen if they will be required to test for it. Harris said for the water side, the Armory as a requirement of the U.S. Military tested their city water supply and said it came back as being undetectable. “Since they didn’t find anything we didn’t feel it was necessary to look any farther,” Harris said.
_ Approved the annual waste hauler’s licenses. It was noted that GFL which has the city contract for garbage and recycling has not submitted their annual license. A fee is charged for any licenses renewed after the June 30 deadline.
_ Approved liquor licenses for Klingbeil Lumber to sell beer and liquor for off-site consumption. They also approved the license for on-site consumption for beer and liquor for El Jovenaso restaurant.
_ Received word that the water tower painting for the north tower on Shattuck St. was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, June 22. Harris noted the tower will receive two coats with the base coat to be a beige color, this is being done so that they know where their crew has painted for the second coat. To prevent over-spray, the tower is being painted with hand rollers.