Officials announced Thursday that the long awaited Trane All Abilities Park is set to open next month, after nearly three years under construction.
The $6 million park at 15th and Chase streets will be one of only a few all-ability parks in the U.S., and it will be an inclusive space with activities and equipment for kids of all abilities. It’s set to officially open June 3.
“You’re going to be amazed. The park is spectacular,” said Jim Flottmeyer with the La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, who announced the news to the La Crosse Board of Park Commissioners Thursday evening.
The project has been highly anticipated by the community, after being in the works for several years and officially breaking ground in October 2018. It replaces a previous underused playground.
The two-acre park will include seven sensory play zones and other specialized equipment designed for people of all ages and abilities.
“My 3-year-old walks around it regularly and he cannot wait to get in there and play,” said newly elected council member Rebecca Schwarz.
A grand opening for the inclusive park is set for June 2 at 4 p.m.
New trail in Miller Bluff
Park officials approved a new hike-only trail through the La Crosse blufflands Thursday night.
The roughly one mile trail will be built to climb up Miller Bluff, and will travel from the Lower Hixon Parking Lot up to the bluff lookout vista.
It will specifically begin at the Lower Hixon Trail Head, crossing the gully below the Vista Trail before wrapping below the Milson Prairie rock point. It will then skirt below the Milson Prairie ridgeline to the north, crossing a plot of land that was swapped with a private owner, connecting to the existing Miller Bluff lookout trail, and will create a loop for hikers.
The new trail will not use the Vista Trail bridge, and will be entirely built on city property, and crews will also repair the existing Bluff Pass Trail during construction, after the public highlighted it as a priority for trail users and it has potential for a possible EMS route to the forest.
“This is a high priority focus as restoration is very necessary to make this a sustainable trail that withstands erosion and weathering. It’s current condition does not meet modern trail standards,” the city states in its plans for the trail project.
The Bluff Pass Trail will get around 350 feet of new construction, including the addition of new drainage features, and the termination of some old route sections where vegetation would be restored.
One hurdle for the trail will be constructing near and through Miller Prairie, where some native species lie.
“The aim is to provide the best experience for trail users and avoid disturbance of the native species found within it,” the city’s plan states.
The city and Outdoor Recreation Alliance Trails plan to avoid damage to the native plants found within the prairie during trail construction.
Construction is set to begin in the coming months, and completion of the new trail is expected near the end of October.
Logger baseball is back
The La Crosse Loggers is back for its 19th season in the Northwoods League this summer, and leaders are excited about what’s to come.
“We don’t need to relive 2020. We’re putting it in the rearview mirror as best we can, as safely as we can. But we’re excited for this upcoming season,” Ben Kapanke told the Parks Board Thursday.
The collegiate summer league baseball team will be back at Copeland Park, this year with full capacity, the team announced on its social media, and with other new items including spirits supplied by the La Crosse Distilling Co. A fireworks display will also be back on Friday, June 4.
An exciting new event to hit Copeland Park this summer will be the Northwoods League Dream Showcase, an event that brings in 100-120 Major League Baseball scouts to watch handpicked players from the Northwoods League.
Kapanke said the showcase is typically held in Madison, but the league opened it up and the Loggers jumped on the opportunity. It was set to be held in La Crosse last year, but was cancelled due to COVID, and will be held this year Aug. 3.
The Parks Board also approved the annual Boy Scouts sleepover camp in Copeland Park for July 31, 2020.
The team’s season officially kicks off Monday, May 31 at the Mankato Moondogs. The first home game will be Wednesday, June 2 against the Minnesota Mud Puppies, kicking off a series of six back-to-back home games.
Loggers games Monday-Friday begin at 6:35 p.m., Saturdays at 8:05 p.m. and Sundays at 5:05 p.m.
Other Park Board items
The Parks Board also approved the transfer of surplus land to the La Crosse Fire Department to make way for a new Fire Station No. 2.
The La Crosse Common Council approved to move funding around to rebuild the fire station after historical concerns were raised about tearing down Fire Station No. 4, which was first on the chopping block this year in a wave of new construction to the city’s many aging fire facilities.
The new station will be constructed on the last remaining lot of old Goosetown Park near La Crosse Street and West Avenue, which has since become surplus land.
The board did also unanimously recommend to deny the placement of a small Verizon cell pole in Riverside Park. The recommendation goes back to the Board of Public Works.
Officials were concerned about the placement of the pole in a park for aesthetic reasons, which would be about 30 feet tall and placed in the right-of-way next to the sidewalk along State Street, adjacent to the Veteran’s Memorial Drive intersection.
The Maple Leaf Run/Walk during Oktoberfest is also coming back to Riverside Park, and a free Kids from Wisconsin concert and Community Arts Spotlight show at the Riverside Band Shell in July, per the board’s approval Thursday.