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Lueth Park

Nick Poladna, 14, catches some air on his scooter on the new track at the Lueth Park Bicycle Playground and Skate Park.

Monthslong renovations to Lueth Park were officially unveiled Tuesday afternoon, with a 25,000-square-foot asphalt pump track at the core of the project.

Construction of the $270,000 project began in late July and concluded in early October, with funding from the La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, La Crosse Community Foundation and Outdoor Recreation Alliance, which spearheaded efforts to revive the park’s deteriorating and underutilized skate park and install a multi-use pump track.

A pump track is a circuit of banked turns and other terrain features that can be traversed on a bicycle without pedaling — instead, the rider powers the bike by “pumping,” or matching shifts in body weight and bicycle position to the terrain in order to maintain momentum.

Additional contributions for the Leuth Park track came from the ORA Trail Fund, Weber Family Foundation, a Go Fund Me campaign, the Goosetown-Campus Neighborhood Association and local businesses, allowing for extra amenities including wooden skills features. ORA members put in 500 volunteer hours to help complete the pump track, with the UW-L Athletic Club taking the lead on the Building Champions Trail around the track’s perimeter.

Mayor Tim Kabat called the project a “true collaboration” requiring a lot of “blood, sweat and tears and hard work.”

More than 75 people came out for the grand opening, with some four dozen people of all ages testing out their bikes and scooters on the pump track and about a dozen taking advantage of the adjacent freshly repaired skate park.

Lueth Park’s existing ballfield was taken down to make room for the pump track, which is designed for use by people of various ages and skill levels. The track accommodates skateboards, rollerblades and bikes, and is the only asphalt pump track in the upper Midwest. The pump tracks located in Upper Hixon, designed and co-built by ORA member Jed Olson, are made of from soil.

Mark Schuttenhelm, a frequent user of the Upper Hixon tracks, calls the pump track an asset to the neighborhood and entire region, accessible without a vehicle and immune to spring thaws and rain.

“I think it’s going to go over real good,” Schuttenhelm said.

Lueth Park

Kids from the La Crosse Mountain Bike team try the new track at the Leuth Park Bicycle Playground and Skate Park.

Jonathan Ticku, 11, had already used the pump track four times before the official opening. Though he enjoys the dirt surface of the Upper Hixon tracks, he was enthused by the “wooden tricks” installed on the pump track.

Mayor Kabat declined to test out the track in front of the crowd — “It would be a funny spill YouTube video, to see the mayor crash” — but he expressed interest in bringing his bike back when the cameras were gone.

“It’s going to be an absolute treasure for many more decades, and I’m so excited about that,” Kabat said.

Olson, who came ready to ride in his helmet and shorts, kept his sentiments short and sweet.

“You say a picture is worth a thousand words,” Olson said. “Looking out at this park today is all I really need to say.”

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Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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General assignment reporter

Emily Pyrek covers human interest stories, local events and anything involving dogs for the La Crosse Tribune. She is always interested in story ideas and can be contacted at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

(10) comments

Rick Czeczok

$270,000 for a couple dozen people to enjoy? What the heck is going on at city hall? Stop this park and rec spending and get an audit started on that department.

ElPresidente

They're restricting the park to only a couple dozen?? Where does it say that? How come only that few are allowed? We need an investigaiton.

shameless

Rick, this park is another great outdoor space for the public. Would you prefer the public sit in their houses all day? You should find another hobby other than complaining online. Maybe a run for public office?

Rick Czeczok

Your name please. Didn't think so.....

Cassandra2

Comrade Zerocock, when will you call out the Cougar-bot or the Hoaxer and demand their names?

Cassandra2

Still waiting, Comrade.

Cassandra2

Still waiting, Comrade.

badboy

Rick, if you read the article you will find out the P&R didn't pay the entire $270k. Seems to me some folks just like to complain about the things they don't use. I bet you also complain about too many kids on video games not getting exercise. Then when a facility is provided for them to get outside and exercise, you complain. #GetOffMyLawn

Rick Czeczok

You don't know me or you would know better then to say those things. Pure and simple.
Is badboy your real name?

Rick Czeczok

Again give it a couple months and you won't see anyone on the site, just like it was before. I know that $270,000 can be better spent. Just watch the gang graffiti come back and no one on it. Just saying....

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