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City of Rhinelander Wants Input on Housing & PFAS Issues


Spend time talking to someone looking to buy house or rent a place in the Northwoods right now and they’ll likely tell you it’s tough.

Homes don’t stay on the market long. When there are places available for rent, issues of quality and affordability come up.

These are all things Rhinelander City Council has heard in the last year.

Now it wants to better understand the housing needs and how the city can meet them, according to City Administrator Zack Vruwink.

“As a starting point, we really wanted to get an assessment underway to understand more than just anecdote and individual accounts, but more broadly what are the concerns in the market,” said Vruwink.

The city is working with a consultant to hold two open houses Tuesday to gather feedback.

They’re looking for people from all different housing situations to give feedback.

“The public open houses are an opportunity for residents, business leaders, and hiring professionals to give their first-hand perspectives around what they’ve experienced and what they see are the needs and should be the priorities of the housing needs assessment,” said Vruwink.

The open houses are Tuesday at City Hall on Stevens Street. There’s one at 2:00 p.m. and another at 5:00 p.m.

You are asked to RSVP ahead of time. People who can’t attend in person can also learn about different ways to contribute through that link.

Water Survey

The City of Rhinelander also wants public input on water issues.

It’s been nearly two years since Rhinelander shutdown two of its wells due to high PFAS levels.

PFAS refers to a group of manmade chemicals that, when ingested, is linked to health risks including cancer. 

The DNR labeled the airport as a “Responsible Party” for the situation, a designation the airport has disputed.

The city had the old landfill behind the old Shopko building tested.

Only trace amounts of PFAS were found.

While the city works on the cause and potential solutions to its PFAS problems, it’s asking for input from people who use city water.

“We’re trying to identify strategies and resident preferences in how we go about addressing the PFAS issues. There are some limitations as it relates to getting the state rules developed, but at this point we’re trying to get residents input and engagement on the matters that facing the city as it relates to water and PFAS,” said Vruwink.

You are asked to complete the survey if you live in Rhinelander or are connected to the Rhinelander Water Utility.

You can also go to the Rhinelander City Clerk’s office for a paper copy of the survey.

It takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

The survey is due by Sunday, July 18. 

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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