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Concerns raised over new health clinic proposal in West Milwaukee

Posted at 9:07 PM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 23:08:34-04

A new health clinic that would help low-income families in the Village of West Milwaukee may not move forward after the village board expressed concern over the proposal.

16th Street Community Health Centers already operates clinics on the south side of Milwaukee and in Waukesha. They've been trying for about three years to open a location West Milwaukee, and finally settled on the property located at 4603 W. Mitchell St, which is currently zoned for industrial use.

For West Milwaukee resident Jose Mora and his family, a new health clinic near his home would be a huge help.

"My wife got cancer. So I know for sure people need more taking care of in that area," he said. "Especially a lot of Spanish people. They don’t have insurance, they can go get taken care of."

16th Street Community Health Centers already provides medical and behavioral health care to about 40,000 patients at the existing clinics, and about 7,500 of those people do not have health insurance.

They said they've seen a need to open a clinic in West Milwaukee.

"We’re already serving a large number of the [West Milwaukee] community," said Director of Community Relations Chris Mambu Rasch. "Nearly a quarter of the residents live below the federal poverty line."

Some members of the Village of West Milwaukee Board say they don't think a health clinic is the best use for that property.

"This is not a matter of revenue generating decisions for the village, this is a matter of whether or not it's an appropriate use of the property, as a heart of the village development," said Village Attorney Val Anderson.

There was also concern about how the clinic might affect established businesses in that area and the stress it may put on the police department.

Rasch says 16th Street has agreed to pay the village a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) of $30,000 each year. The current property owner pays about $8,100 in property taxes, according to Rasch.

He also says they collected about 100 signatures on a petition from residents who would like to see the clinic built.

"It should be a win for the village to get a new investment in the community, a $7 to $8 million new clinic," he said. "You’re getting 50 to 60 new jobs in the village and really it’s more importantly going to directly benefit the people who live here."

The board decided Monday night to table the issue, so no action was taken. They plan to continue the discussion with 16th Street.