Livable Neighborhoods Inc. joined the opposition to a proposed demolition of nine homes at Eighth and Tyler streets Monday, calling for the La Crosse Common Council to deny the request by Gundersen Health System.
Gundersen applied for a permit to knock down the homes to make way for a patient parking lot. The application was approved by the Judiciary and Administrative Committee last week, despite a Plan Commission recommendation to delay it a month to allow communication between the hospital and the Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood Association.
Charley Weeth, president of Livable Neighborhoods, called on the city to follow the recommendation of the Plan Commission and planning department staff to delay the request until the hospital demonstrates the need for additional parking.
“It’s a matter of saying ‘no more’ to parking lots,” Weeth said. “We’re not a drive-through community and a commuter parking lot.”
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Weeth believes the city, hospital and neighborhoods should be working together to discourage parking, rather than making it free and convenient. Abundant free parking leads to more drivers on the roads, which leads to building more roads, he said.
“It just eats away at the community and the reason the community was so attractive in the first place is gone,” Weeth said.
Weeth further raised objections that the parking lot was inconsistent with the Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood Plan, La Crosse Comprehensive Plan, Sustainability Plan, Transportation Vision and Powell-Poage-Hamilton/Gundersen Health System Joint Neigbhorhood and Campus Plan.
Gundersen executive director of external affairs Michael Richards said last week that the demolition would allow for 175 new parking stalls for patients, which would be needed to replace patient parking lost to the hotel development on South Avenue and planned medical resident housing, which will cost the hospital about 215 stalls.