An area businessman has made an offer to buy the former Wisconsin Public Service building in downtown Rhinelander.
Michael Boyd, of Boyd Financial Services, in Rhinelander, said he sent a proposal to Oneida County officials last week to purchase the county-owned property.
In an interview, Boyd declined to discuss the specifics of his offer, but he did say that it contains three options for what the transaction could look like.
Boyd first publicly expressed interest in the former WPS property in December. At the time, he said the viability of a deal would depend on the county leasing part of the building to house offices for the county’s UW-Extension and land and water conservation staffs, which at present are located in the basement of the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport.
Leaders of those departments have said the airport location is small, awkwardly designed and difficult for the public to find. They said last year that they would be interested in moving into the former WPS office – a 9,100 square-foot building less than a block away from the county courthouse.
After meeting in closed session with Boyd on Tuesday, the county’s land records committee forwarded his offer to the full county board for consideration. The committee did not make a recommendation.
Before the closed-session started, Supervisor Sonny Paszak said he thought the building should be demolished and replaced with a parking lot for courthouse employees.
“We’re not in the market to rent out places,” Paszak. “I just feel government shouldn’t be involved in that.”
Denny Thompson, the chairman of the committee, said he also supported the idea of using the space for parking. Thompson said there is a chance the county could incur costs for remodeling the site, though he said he could not talk specifically because the issue was discussed in closed session.
Ultimately, Thompson said, converting the site into a parking lot could be less expensive for the county than selling the property to Boyd and leasing part of it back.
After the meeting, Boyd said he understood support for replacing the WPS building with a parking lot, though he noted that doing so would likely come at a substantial financial loss for the county.
The Oneida County Board voted to purchase the building from Wisconsin Public Service in 2008 for $525,000.
“It becomes an expensive parking lot but a parking lot nonetheless, and it will never be on the tax rolls,” Boyd said. “I’m sure there’s arguments that can go either way.”
Jonathan Anderson may be reached at email@example.com