Some of Sue Lacoste’s happiest memories of growing up in La Crosse include Myrick Park.
“Everything about it was like a little mini-amusement park and there was something for everyone,” Lacoste said.
Lacoste serves as president of the Myrick Park Community group, which is spearheading an effort to restore the historic duck house in the park. She presented the plans for the about $200,000 renovation Thursday to the city’s Board of Park Commissioners.
“We’d really love to start this year. It’d be so awesome if a big donor would step up and give us a nice-sized donation,” Lacoste said.
The group has been working since 2015 to restore the park to its former glory, before the Myrick Park Zoo closed in 2007.
“Most of us in La Crosse grew up here. We know what it was like for our childhood to go down there and hear the bells ringing on them boats and the zoo,” Lacoste said. “Almost everybody you talk to, their fondest memories are Myrick Park, period. It was a place where people went with their families.”
The group hopes to foster that family tradition.
“I’d like to be able to take my grandson there,” vice president Margaret Strasser said.
Preliminary plans for the second phase include an all abilities playground, rides like there were in years past and maybe a petting zoo building.
“Zoo will be last,” Lacoste said.
The Myrick Park Community group decided to start with the duck house as a way to tie in the history of the city park, which was named after La Crosse founder Nathan Myrick. The duck house has been deemed historical by the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission.
“It’s not going anywhere and you can’t find that kind of architecture, as far as the rock and the way the building was built, anywhere anymore,” Strasser said.
You have free articles remaining.
Also included in the project will be a koi pond put in by Peaceful Falls. Owner John Tellier said the pond would be lined and include a cleaning and filtration system, as well as a system to allow the fish to remain over the winter. Maintenance would be done by volunteers with Myrick Park Community.
The purpose of the bond and duck house would be to attract ducks that are already in the area to the park.
They started out with bids above $300,000, but those numbers have gone down as local companies stepped up to help. Peaceful Falls, Strupp Trucking and Phillips Fencing all agreed to provide services at reduced rates.
In particular, Jon Papenfuss has been a huge help, Lacoste said. He did a rendering for the design based on Otto Merman’s original drawings, which saved the group $10,000.
The cost is now down to $206,499, which she said would cover the renovation as well as signs warning against feeding the ducks bread and possibly a plaque honoring Merman.
The group is raising money and applying for grants to pay for the project, and Lacoste hopes the city of La Crosse will chip in $100,000 in capital improvement funds as well.
“If we get all of the grants we’re applying for approved this year, we’d be able to start this year, so we’re praying for that,” Lacoste said.
The designs will need to be approved by the city’s engineering department and parks board before the project can move forward.
The parks board Thursday asked the group to keep in mind the environmental impact, operating costs and any costs associated with future repairs.