Committee Takes No Action on Heal Creek Proposals

Feb 11, 2015

The Oneida County Land and Records Committee will take more time to consider bid proposals for the Heal Creek property near Rhinelander.  The committee wants to give competing parties more time, in case of a compromise. 

Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

About 50 people crowded a committee meeting room at the Oneida County Courthouse Tuesday, to weigh in on what to do with the 270-acre Heal Creek property.

The county is selling the land after plans to turn it into a business park stalled. 

A proposal from the Town of Crescent and the City of Rhinelander to develop a year-round recreational trail system has garnered significant public support. 

But the Hodag Sports Club has also put in a bid to buy the property, offering substantially more cash. 

The city and town’s plan would expand upon existing trails at the Northwoods Golf Club, with hopes of also utilizing the club house as a lodge in winter. 

Secretary of the Rhinelander Tourism and Marketing Committee Dana DeMet thinks that could draw visitor spending of over a million dollars a year.

"The most unique thing about this proposal is it takes advantage of an existing structure, that would allow for four-season recreation, extremely close to town – you don’t often find that in the Northwoods.”

The Sports Club says it wants the land as a buffer for its nearby rifle range, and says public access would be allowed once the land is enrolled in the Managed Forest Program.

But many citizens are concerned that the club offers no permanent guarantee. 

The Oneida County Land and Records Committee decided to take up the issue two months from now.

County board members voiced a desire for more longterm economic forecasts and possible cooperation between the prospective buyers.