City, Crossing Rivers complete land donation

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(Left to right) City Fire Department Chief Tad Beutin, City Administrator Chad Abram, Crossing Rivers Chief Executive Officer Chris Brophy, Mayor David Hemmer and Police Department Chief Kyle Teynor met at the future site of Prairie du Chien’s public safety building on July 1. (Steve Van Kooten/Courier Press)

A picture of the Polodna family during the ground breaking on the Memorial Hospital property in 1955. VThe family is pictured on the same land that has been donated to the city. (Submitted by Crossing Rivers Health)

By Steve Van Kooten


The City of Prairie du Chien and Crossing Rivers Health completed a donation agreement for the land previously occupied by Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital. With the agreement, the city owns the parcel bordered by State, South Dousman, East Taylor and East Wells streets.

On July 1, 2024, City Administrator Abram, Mayor David Hemmer, Fire Chief Beutin, Chief of Police Teynor and Crossing Rivers Health Chief Executive Officer Chris Brophy gathered at the site for the public safety building to commemorate Crossing Rivers’ donation to the city.

“It’s about time [the property] goes back to the community,” Brophy said. “Our hope has been that another community need could be fulfilled on this land, aligned with the intent of the original donors when they gifted it for our hospital.”

Last September, Teynor held a series of talks with community organizations, including the River Valley Networking Group, about the possibility of a public safety building. The city began talking about a possible building for the fire department, police department and emergency services approximately eight years ago, and, in 2020, the city contracted Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH) for a space/needs study. The city established an official committee for the project in late September of 2023.

Senator Tammy Baldwin procured $4.95 million in federal funding for the project in December 2022. Teynor noted that the federal money wasn’t a loan, and the city was not required to return the funds as long as they were utilized by Dec. 31, 2025.

“This could be a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” Teynor said during his talk with the River Valley Networking Group.

By 2023, the city had assembled a group to explore possibilities for the project to address issues faced by the city’s emergency response services, including response times, housing vehicles and equipment and technology updates.

“Fire equipment has gotten a lot longer,” Beutin said in an interview with the Courier Press last September. “We’re backing up right to the back walls of the building, and that’s not safe for my guys.”

According to Beutin, the current fire station does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and does not have the 16-foot doors and other structural features the department’s equipment needs.

The city considered multiple locations until late 2023. Among other locations, the site of the city’s fire station on Blackhawk Avenue, a lot at the intersection of Mooney Street and Marquette Road and a property behind Blackhawk Apartments. Each location presented logistical challenges for one or both services.

At the time, Teynor said, “There’s a multitude of things at each location that give us a curve ball. We’re trying to work through those things. I don’t think there’s a perfect location for this building, but if we squander $4.95 million, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

In October, the city held a public information meeting for the community to review all proposed locations for the building, field community concerns about the project and the decision-making process and acquire feedback from residents near the former location of the Memorial Hospital.

In November, the city and Crossing Rivers Health exchanged correspondence about a land donation or purchase of the old hospital location. The city attorney at the time, Lara Czajkowski-Higgins, contacted Brophy to discuss the possibility on November 12. An email dated five days later indicated Crossing Rivers Health was receptive to the city’s proposal in order to “achieve the outcome that best serves the community.”

Conditions for the land donation included that the city would display recognition for the hospital’s donation to the city and the original land donation from the Polodna family to the Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital. Vince and Viola Polodna donated the land for the Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital in 1955.

The city instructed Czajkowski-Higgins to pursue a donation agreement with Crossing Rivers Health for the old hospital’s location in December.

On January 24, the Prairie du Chien Common Council convened to review the donation agreement between the city and Crossing Rivers Health. The city attorney characterized the proposal as an agreement with obligations to fulfill.

The city had several due diligences outlined in the agreement: the city would be responsible to restore the land to its condition prior to any investigations made on the property, examine the property’s title to determine the parcel’s viability for the Public Safety Center, conduct a survey of the area as required and perform proper re-zoning for the project as needed. If there were issues with the property, such as the results of an environmental study, that made the sight unusable for the project, both sides could have let the agreement lapse.

The agreement outlined a closing date of July 1, 2024. At that time, the property would transfer possession to the city through a special warranty deed. The extended period of time between signing and closing would allow the city to perform its due diligence.

“There weren’t really any issues of contention. It was just setting up a structure for the donation to occur. We don’t want to take possession of the property if it is not appropriate, nor does the hospital want to donate the property if we’re not going to use it,” Higgins said at the January meeting.

The agreement also included a one year extension contingent on Crossing Rivers’ discretion. The extension can be used if the project is not completed by Dec. 31, 2026, pushing the deadline out to Dec. 31, 2027.

“As long as we’re making progress toward that goal, the hospital could use that,” Higgins said. If the project has not been completed by the end of 2027, the property could then revert back to Crossing Rivers’ possession.

By the end of February, the city had solicited and received architect and design proposals for the project and chose SEH to take the reins of the project’s design. SEH has worked with Prairie du Chien on several projects and submitted the lowest bid ($554,804). The city and SEH held a kick-off meeting for the project on February 27 and biweekly meetings started on March 27.

On May 15, Abram said the project had a complete set of blueprints for the building’s internal design, which included input from police, fire and city personnel.

Abram anticipated that renderings would be available for public viewing sometime during the summer.

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