DOT purchases land from Neenah for $15,000 an acre


The town of Neenah, Wisconsin, has agreed to sell 4.83 acres of agricultural land north of Oakridge Road and west of Oak Hill Cemetery to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) for $522,450, or $15,000 an acre.

WisDOT has plans to use the land as one of two wetland mitigation sites for an ongoing $475 million expansion of the Tri-County Freeway. The property will be preserved in perpetuity as a wet meadow.

The town will make a nice profit on the land. Neenah bought 58 acres in 1999 to protect a 300-megawatt power plant, owned by Alliant Energy, from annexation to the city. It bought another 19 acres in 2008. At the time the town paid an average of $10,418 an acre.

The drawback is the property won’t end up on the town’s tax roll as officials had hoped.

A year ago, the Winnebago County Parks Department offered to lease a 41-acre parcel from the town to operate a regional dog park. The proposed rent for the land – $5,740 annually – was rejected. At that rate it would have taken more than 90 years for the rent to equal the DOT’s purchase price.

Town officials are still trying to decide what to do with the $522,450.