Demolition of former Health and Human Services building to begin March 2

NEW RICHMOND — On March 2, 2015, St. Croix County will see the end of another era when the demolition of the building formerly occupied by Health and Human Services staff at 1445 North 4th Street in New Richmond begins.

The demolition will bring to an end the third phase of the County’s 2012 plan to help fund long standing facility and infrastructure issues by auctioning 552 acres of the County owned 583 acres on the western side of New Richmond on February 23, 2013 for $3.3 million. The proceeds from the land sale helped fund the expansion of the county’s emergency communications center in Hudson, the purchase of the former County Market building in New Richmond for the relocation of the Health and Human Services employees out of the outdated and inefficient building slated for demolition and for the actual demolition and site work of all remaining outdated structures on the County’s New Richmond campus.

The County’s New Richmond campus is located on the STH 64 expressway on the west side of New Richmond, about 14 miles from the new river crossing. “The auctioned land is zoned for development, future road connections are planned and it is along a major expressway, so someday there will be development opportunities, but until then it is good farmland,” County Administrator Patrick Thompson said at the time of the sale.

Health and Human Services staff moved into the 1974 building on the New Richmond campus from downtown Hudson in the late 80’s after other County staff moved into the newly constructed Government Center in Hudson.

The building had formerly been used for nursing home residents and also as an inpatient treatment facility. The maze like layout, dark corridors and numerous exterior courtyards and entrances were not very conducive for office space and the provision of services to the public. The building also proved difficult to secure.

After the County hired Administrator Patrick Thompson in 2011, a decision was made to relocate the Health and Human Services staff due to the number of facility deficiencies and security issues. Initially, the County issued a Request for Leased Office Space but eventually decided to purchase the former County Market building across from Walmart in New Richmond and have it renovated into office space. The purchase was finalized in September of 2013 and approximately 135 Health and Human Services staff moved into the renovated building at the end of June 2014. The building is now known as the St. Croix County Services Center (SCCSC).

The County owned Nursing Home/Health Center remains on the County’s New Richmond campus. Renovation of the existing Health Center building into a 40 bed Community Based Residential Facility as well as construction of a new 50 bed skilled nursing and 10 bed Dementia Crisis Stabilization facility is currently being designed and is planned to begin in the Fall of 2015.

The demolition of the old HHS building will kick off at 9am on Monday morning, March 2nd on site. All are welcome to attend a brief demolition kick off ceremony. Plans are being made for the distribution of bricks from the old building. Safe zones will be established on site for anyone wishing to watch the demolition. Demolition is expected to take about two months followed by site restoration in the Spring.

Demolition costs have been estimated at about $1,000,000 to include hazardous material assessments and abatement, site and other facility preparation and actual demolition. Frattelone Companies, Inc. was awarded the demolition contract following a competitive bidding process. Building material will be crushed and stockpiled on site. Some may be used as fill but higher grade fill will be required in areas where construction of the new Health Center is planned. Currently Frattelone’s demolition services are estimated at, $487,989. Asbestos Removal Services was awarded the contract to abate any hazardous materials prior to demolition. Abatement services are estimated at $287,155. Additional site costs related to the demolition total approximately, $200,000 to date.

In the 116-year history of the County’s New Richmond campus there have been numerous changes in buildings, services, and operations.

In 1897 the county built the St. Croix County Chronic Insane Hospital. Later that year, the barns, and residence for the county poor farm were also constructed. St. Croix County’s first poor farm was located in the Town of Kinnickinnic, but in 1897 the St. Croix County Board voted to construct a new county poor farm and home in New Richmond on the same site where the new county insane asylum was being built, according to an article in the November 15, 1897 Milwaukee Journal. The farm was originally 667 acres. From the beginning, much of the work on the farm, both indoors and out was performed by the asylum patients and poor farm residents. The farm raised dairy, beef, and swine.

In 1917, under the direction of Superintendent R.W. Poston, a registered Holstein herd was started to improve the farm’s dairy herd and increase revenues. The farm purchased high quality bulls from  national sales and established a recognizable bloodline for their cows. The St. Croix County registered herd improved significantly and eventually became one of the well-known breeding establishments in the country, selling high quality cows and bulls at registered cattle sales. The herd won 33 National Holstein Association Progressive Breeder Registry awards.

The poor farm residence closed in 1958. The farm operation started to change after that. During the next three decades, several buildings were torn down and a 34-acre parcel was sold to the State Department of Corrections for the Early Release Center. In 1971 new state regulations prevented county hospital residents from working on the county farm. By the 1980’s the farm operation’s connection to the county health facilities had become much less. The St. Croix County Board voted 26-3 in August of 1989 to sell the county farm’s dairy herd. The March 6, 1990 auction was well attended by about 1,200 farmers, according to a March 6, 1990 Milwaukee Journal article. In that same article, John Spanton, the farm’s herdsman, described the 146 head herd as one of the best known herds in the country. “This is one of the top herds in the United States,” Spanton said. “People would like to have an animal out of the St. Croix herd if possible.” After the sale of the herd, the empty barns and farm house on the site were rented out and then eventually torn down in 2008.