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Park Rapids & Walker Eye Clinic breaks ground on new facility

The new eye clinic, which will sit at the corner of Highway 34 and Huntsinger Ave., is scheduled for completion in March 2018. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
A rendering of the clinic shows the southeast corner overlooking Highway 34. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Park Rapids & Walker Eye Clinic in Park Rapids broke ground last week on the home of what will soon be their new facility.

Co-owners Dr. Murry Westberg and Dr. Jen Keller knew for a long time that they needed a bigger space and had talked about it casually numerous times.

After Dr. Keller officially became a partner in January 2017, they began seriously looking at a lot of options on how they could accomplish that.

"We are at a point where we need to expand our business," Keller explained, "which is great because we want to service more patients, but we're held back by our space here."

The partners had explored a lot of options for quite a while and had originally wanted the property located at the corner of State Highway 34 and Huntsinger Ave., which use to be the site of Dr. Roland "Doc" Kotowski's dental clinic, who was a longtime area dentist.

"The stars aligned and we got our dream property," Keller said. "There was a huge series of events and everything worked out beautifully. We went for it and we're super happy about the location of our new place."

According to Keller, the old dental office, which has been sitting vacant for nearly 17 years, will be demolished and a parking lot will take its place in front of the new facility.

The clinic was designed by bhh Partners out of Perham and will be built by Baratto Brothers Construction out of Crosslake, who will be sourcing locally as much as they can.

Keller explained how they are happy to be cleaning up the property that sits on a prominent corner within the city. She hopes this generates excitement among the community members. She doesn't hide her own excitement as she said, "I want to sit there. I want to sit there all day and watch what's going on because it's exciting!"

Currently, the new clinic is scheduled to be finished in mid-March and the contractors have already begun work on the footings and foundation for the building.

It will be approximately 5,600 square feet with eight exam lanes, doubling the space they have now.

"It will allow us to see more people and provide more services to our patients and we're definitely working to bring in more services to our community," Keller said, adding that will create new job opportunities as well.

"The biggest surprise for me, I've never done this and I don't know what to expect, but it's been fun for us because we want to give back to our patients. We want to hire more staff and support our community that way, but it's been fun to support the community in a way I wasn't expecting," Keller said, "such as working with the local banks and then working with some of our local subcontractors and being able to able to help these people out locally as much as we can has been a pleasant surprise for us."