SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WFRV) – There is a growing divide in Sheboygan, over a proposed medical facility.
Aurora Health Care wants to buy, and build on a site currently occupied by the Field of Dreams sports park.
The school district owns the land, and started talks with Aurora 17 months ago. But, some residents are upset they are first hearing about the plan now.
“Shock. Total shock and dismay” says Sheboygan resident Vicky Meyer.
She is part of a growing grassroots effort to save the Field of Dreams.
“I just do not like seeing green space destroyed. Families have built memories here” Meyer says.
Aurora Health Care wants to purchase the site from the Sheboygan School District, to build an $86 million outpatient surgery center and office building. It offers room to grow, unlike the landlocked hospital. The project would bring an estimated 30 new jobs to the community.
“It is very important to stress that our current facilities will stay where they are” explains Andrea Gavin, MD. She is Aurora’s Chief Medical Officer for the Sheboygan Market. She says there are not future plans to close the hospital.
Aurora spent several years searching for the ideal parcel. “It is in the city so it helps the city of Sheboygan with the tax base. It is also in the perfect spot for our patients. It is on a bus line, and it is where the center of population is for the county” Gavin says.
The company would donate $5 million to relocate the athletic fields.
The plan keeps a large park in the neighborhood, across the road from the current Field of Dreams. It is a parcel not suitable for Aurora to build on because of surrounding wetlands.
According to Gavin, “They will be much better fields for use by the soccer, football and baseball players”.
The plan gives the new fields two growing seasons to get established, before Field of Dreams is dismantled.
Community fundraising plaques and naming rights on the athletic fields will be used at the new park.
But, some community members are worried about the atmosphere the medical campus will create.
“I would assume there would be a lot more traffic then there is already” Meyer says.
Other athletic fields would move several miles across town, to a proposed 54-acre sports complex.
That land was donated to the city of Sheboygan by a family specifically for recreational use.
The local soccer club is excited by the plan.
“It is an opportunity to have more kids involved, offer more programming, and to have these fields represent a community asset” says Joe Voelkner, Board Member of Lakeshore United FC.
Something many community members already see in the field of dreams.
There is a chance for the public to weigh in this Thursday night. The school board will be there, along with representatives from Aurora. It starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Cooper Elementary Gym.