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Trane Park rendering

This updated rendering shows the future of the La Crosse All Abilities Trane Park.

The city of La Crosse will allocate another $300,000 in community development block grant funds to the All Abilities Trane Park project after a project to renovate the upper floors of the Rivoli Theatre into apartments fell through.

The Community Development Committee voted Tuesday to amend its CDBG fund plans for 2019 after learning that the housing project — and a Pearl Street Brewery project it allocated a $300,000 small business development loan to — would not be moving forward this year.

With the delays, the city needed to find new projects to support with the funds or risk the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development taking them back, according to Tara Fitzgerald of the city’s planning department.

“There’s a lot of pressure from HUD to get the money moving and out the door. We can’t be sitting on it,” Fitzgerald said.

Without another major housing project to invest in, the planning department recommended using the Rivoli project funds for Trane Park and the remaining dollars for its housing revolving loan fund.

“This way it would come into an eligible project for the city,” Fitzgerald said.

Jay Odegaard

Jay Odegaard, Director of La Crosse Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Parks director Jay Odegaard said the grant would help close a funding gap to get the project moving forward.

“This $300,000 is going to be a large chunk of the playground equipment,” Odegaard said.

The utilities and shelters are under construction, and the city plans to move forward with the second phase this year, which will cost about $3 million and include the construction of unique three-dimensional space.

“As you walk in, this is a big bowl, so the slides are built into the side of the hill, and a lot of the equipment — all of the equipment, as a matter of fact — has been picked out by experts from both Mayor and Gundersen, so that the equipment will service children and young adults with disabilities, but also be very enjoyable for all ages to play on,” Odegaard said.

The project had $2.2 million set aside and Odegaard has also requested tax increment financing to close the gap.

Mayor Tim Kabat

Kabat

Mayor Tim Kabat said the city has funded all of the 2019 requests for housing and economic development projects, saying, “Park and open space are definitely a qualifying use.”

It meets federal requirements because it takes an empty park and turns it into a facility that will better serve the neighborhood’s needs.

“I really think this park will draw people from the community into that neighborhood,” Odegaard said.

Council member Barb Janssen, who is also a member of the committee, had no reservations making the motion to approve, agreeing that it was an appropriate use of the funds.

“This project, like many in the city, are assets in improving quality of life for all our residents,” Janssen said.

Committee member Adam Hatfield concurred, saying, “Spaces like this build community.”

The remaining $300,000 will go into the housing revolving loan pool, which would be used on housing rehabilitation loans or future multi-family, low-income housing projects.

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Jourdan Vian can be reached at jvian@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.

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City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

(6) comments

takka

I think that Mr. Odegaard is doing a very nice job in his new position. He is a very personable gentlemen.

Green85

The All Abilities park is absolutely necessary and has been promised for years, and will be a fabulous place for kids AND adults who aren't able to fully enjoy standard park spaces. My daughter is on the autism spectrum, and it's taken so long to get this thing done that she missed out on years of enjoyment she would've had if this project gotten done when it was supposed to be. The park is on the MTU busline, so it's certainly possible for people on the North Side to visit. One does have to wonder though, where the parks department money has been getting spent over the last how many years, with sites such as Memorial Pool, the duck house in Myrick, and the fountain in Riverside all being neglected to the point they need to be almost entirely rebuilt, costing even more money than would likely have been spent had appropriate maintenance and upgrades had been prioritized all along. What IS going on in City Hall??

LaCrosseTaxPayer

How about Mr bankruptcy “chip in” 5 or 10K a year for the next 20 years out of his own pocket, since he’s the one digging this town into a hole after all he just gave you’re self and cronies a big raise and then raise water cost by 20%. How about raising Social Security 20% so we can keep up with all the wasteful spending in this town!! It will take over 32 years to reach a breakeven point of a $4.2 million contract with Johnson Controls Inc. to upgrade lights in four different city buildings! The $42 million La Crosse Center renovation will never come close to breaking even!! How much would we save if the employees would just turn off lights when not needed? How about turning down the heat and limit the A/C Mr. Bankruptcy won’t be happy till he digs this city in a dollar hole so deep there will be no way out!! Stop all this wasteful spending on these pet projects!!! A 100 grand for this survey and 300 K for that servey now a nouther 300 grand for still another pet project that will be used by few!! This clown needs to go, along with his supporters and spend happy fools at city hall, and the morons on the clowncel that are clueless!! We the tax payers and voters will remember this at the poles and you spend happy fools will go to the unemployment line!!!! How about fixing the roads and stop lights, West ave and Jackson has not worked properly since August 2018, when I called to report it I was told a cable was broke, so why not fix it!! Why are we spending 10 times the cost for sensor controlled lights compared to timer controlled lights If the morons at city hall can’t or won’t fix something as simple as a cable maybe we should fire them all and find someone that can or will fix it!!!!!!!!!!

Rick Czeczok

And yet more money for the parks department. Who the hell is accountable for this spending. How about the roads that everyone uses??? This council and mayor are so out of touch. Get out on the street and start talking to people instead of sitting on those butts. Do your job or get out as people I talk to are getting really tired of this spending on parks, unused ball fields, and dangerous parks, referencing the beaches.

Cassandra2

Still waiting for the great unmasking, Comrade Zerocock. I DARE YOU to tell the world who you claim to know I am. You won't because you can't. Either you are a total chickenshiit or just a liar. Which is it?

let it go

I believe the funds could have been more effectively used to help the homeless or the Bridgeview Plaza area. This park is not for all, especially those who live on the northside and do not have access to transportation for themselves or their children.

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