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Wittenberg Park

Wittenberg Park, located on the northern edge of the city, was declared surplus property by the parks board Thursday to make way for a city redevelopment project.

The city of La Crosse took a step toward turning an underutilized park into affordable housing Thursday after the Board of Park Commissioners voted to declare Wittenberg Park surplus property.

The park, which sits at the end of George Street on the city’s far North Side, is about 8.5 acres, 3 acres of which is undevelopable because of wetlands.

“It’s a park and yet it’s hardly ever used and a big portion of it is wetlands,” said parks director Steve Carlyon.

The city’s community development administrator Caroline Gregerson said the planning department hopes to turn the historically underutilized park into an amenity for the city.

“There were some concerns about some drug activity. It’s on a dark corner on a dead-end in a cul-de-sac. The drug issues have been addressed, but just in terms of the larger picture, it was never part of a large park plan,” Gregerson said.

The property was acquired by the city through a trade with the Housing Authority after a project to develop it fell through. Although some is unbuildable, Gregerson hopes to put together a project that would provide additional housing in the area, possibly even giving people displaced by the rising cost of flood insurance on the north side an opportunity to stay in that area.

“Maybe we can be creative and add a park feature that would be better utilized with the housing,” Gregerson said.

The property is in the floodplain; however, Gregerson said its size would make it fairly easy to bring it out of the floodplain.

She plans to reach out to neighborhood groups and other stakeholders for their input while the city works on the project, which is in the very early stages.

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The proceeds of any sale of the property would be put toward capital improvements to other North Side parks.

Marsh trails

The city’s marsh trails have official names after the board Thursday approved a proposal by the Friends of the La Crosse River Marsh and WisCorps, which will let the groups move forward with creating maps and wayfinding signs for users.

“The impetus for this proposal comes from a couple different sources: one, just simply trying to bring some common understanding of what trails are called, since some of them are known by several different names by this point,” said Chuck Lee, president of the Friends of the La Crosse River Marsh.

The second reason is to help people know where they are on the trails, preventing them from getting lost and making sure they can be found in case of an emergency.

“You have your phone with you, but how would you direct somebody to where you are?” Lee asked.

The proposal confirms several formal names and formalizes other informal designations including: the Jim Asfoor Trail, Vietnam Veterans Trail, Willow Trail, Grand Crossing Trail, Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. Trail, Cottonwood Trail and the Wood Duck Trail.

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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.

(5) comments

The Mouse of Death

[censored]It would behoove us to replace meth parks with meth apartments because all meth is medical meth and a vitamin. We are bemezzled indeed by the meth gangs from the drug-ridden apartments when we could have a meth park with heroin needles instead.

canman

If this is the criteria for repurposing a city park, the park board will be plenty busy as most parks aren’t used much. I hope these clowns remember that once the green space is gone, it will never be replaced.

elocs

I have wondered about the segments of the marsh trails having names because otherwise it's hard to tell someone where a problem might be or where you had seen something. This one is a no-brainer and long past time to have been done.
These trails deserve a lot more care and attention by the city considering their popularity with both residents and tourists. How about simple things like cleaning, sweeping collected sand and mud off the trail. Also, when we had the heavy rain a few weeks ago, barricades were put up at the end of the Vietnam Vets trail near Lang Dr. and also on that trail by the Copeland Ave. bridge when there was no water at all on it at all. That hurts credibility for people believing a trail is truly closed when they see a barricade. It also shows that nobody could be bothered to check and see if there really was any water on what will be the Vietnam Vets trail at all.
How many times does the low point spillway on the Grand Crossing Trail need to be washed away over the years before either a culvert is put in with the trail over it or a small bridge is built over it? If that had been done, those marsh trails would all now be open.

let it go

By allowing building in the area we will do a great disservice to the citizen's in that area. They already receive a great deal of seepage because of filling in the wetlands and this will only make things worse. Why not look at other areas that are underused? Where plant 6 was is really being used. Kmart well let's not go there. I use to go sledding there as a child. It is mainly underused because it is an underdeveloped park. No pool, no updated play equipment, and yes it is by a low income housing project which doesn't help. The city should be in the business of building up neighborhoods not tearing them down.

ElPresidente

Go for it... That means it'll be at least 20 years before anything happens if this is like every other development opportunity in La Crosse. See Mobil, Trane, Navy Reserve and I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch.

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