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The renaissance of downtown La Crosse has been one of the best stories to report in years.

The development of corporate offices, first-rate housing, hotels new and refurbished, eateries and entertainment has created a vibrant city center.

Expansion of the La Crosse Center will bring even more people and events downtown.

But there’s plenty of potential for more enjoyment for tourists as well as residents.

Our editorial board recently held a spontaneous discussion about ways to make our downtown even more fun.

Here goes:

More signage for tourists: The recent state track meet was a wonderful example of tourism potential. Yet it was almost comical watching the parade of cars heading down dead-end streets trying to find Grandad Bluff, for instance.

One smart way to make sure tourists come back is to make sure they have a good time while here. Making it easier for them to navigate all of our attractions would help.

A good place to float your boat: The Mississippi River has been flowing through La Crosse for a few years now, and it’s time we figure out how to put boat docks along the river near downtown to welcome visitors. We can welcome the Mississippi Queen; we can’t dock a single boat near downtown. It makes no sense.

More fun ways of getting around by water: As we continue planning to develop Riverside North along the Black River north of the La Crosse River, how are folks going to get from Riverside North to downtown? Just think of the potential for water taxis to help navigate the shoreline downtown. And think of having more kayak and canoe rentals available downtown for recreation along our rivers.

More fun ways of getting around by land: For a community that stresses being bike-friendly, where are the bike rentals that you see in bigger cities and many smaller college towns? Bike rentals would provide great recreation and help ease vehicle congestion downtown. (We may want to think twice about electric scooter rentals, however.)

More dining outdoors: The addition of outdoor seating at the newly reopened Big Al’s is a nice addition, but there are too few spots downtown to enjoy outdoor dining. Yes, we know all about the Polar Vortex. Frankly, that’s why it is so important that we enjoy the lovely weather while we can. State Street in Madison comes to mind.

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These ideas will take some investment, entrepreneurial spirit and public-private partnerships.

And there’s hope.

We shared ideas with Jason Gilman, the city of La Crosse’s top-notch director of planning and development.

He said the city is working on the boating improvements through a design contract to install the first of several transient boating areas adjacent to downtown — one in Riverside Park and one in Riverside North.

City staff is working on a bike/share-rental program.

But programs like that generally require a sponsorship, such as a monthly maintenance contract.

And that requires sponsorship dollars, whether those rentals are available downtown, in neighborhoods, health-care campuses or college campuses.

As Gilman points out, there are more bike racks available downtown these days, more streetscaping and landscaping — all thanks to public-private partnerships.Without question, downtown La Crosse has a lot going for it and a lot to capitalize on.But there’s plenty of room for more fun and more hospitality.


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(11) comments

LaCrosseTaxPayer

How about fixing the potholes, mark the parking spots so the idiots don’t take up 1 ½ spots when they park, level the bricks on the sidewalks so we don’t trip or twist an ankle with missing and uneven bricks, clean up the puke on the sidewalks and streets, stop the homeless from begging, clean the needles up that the junkies leave in the parks and on the streets, and stop taking parking away with the wooden decks and bike racks that sit in the street that are seldom used, put the bike racks on the boulevards and who in their right mind want to sit in the sun in the street breathing all the exhaust from the cars and trucks.

D.Boon

Not only "more fun", but how about "more safety" and "more business opportunity"? 1. Eliminate 53' semi tractor trailers from downtown between hours of 8:00 - midnight. More safety... 2. Return 3rd and 4th streets to bi-directional (no more one-ways) to improve access to businesses on those streets. 3. More bicycle parking 4. More bicycle routes (and improvements) to reach downtown.

Cassandra2

So unsurprised to see all the naysayers and serial gripers piping up.

Monteee

Demolish at least half the bars, and replace them with decent businesses, and then you’ll have something.

DaisyL

Think the editorial board needs to go out with folks that actually know and do fun things. Don't think these thoughts could get more lame. Right up there with watching paint dry or grass grow.

Necktye

Put your money where your mouth is, Tribune: Use the money you're saving from dumping staffers to invest in downtown yourself. For STARTERS, fix the Trib sign. Burned-out light should be an embarrassment. Pressure-wash the building so it's not such an eyesore. And buy an American flag for the pole for cryin' out LOUD. Like your arrogant editorial preaches to others: Improving downtown will take an investment. Well, practice what you preach and INVEST instead of sending all the profits to Davenport.

Necktye

Put your money where your mouth is, Tribune: Use the money you're saving from dumping staffers to invest in downtown yourself. For STARTERS, fix the Trib sign. Burned-out light should be an embarrassment. Pressure-wash the building so it's not such an eyesore. And buy an American flag for the pole for cryin' out LOUD. Like your arrogant editorial preaches to others: Improving downtown will take an investment. Well, practice what you preach and INVEST instead of sending all the profits to Davenport.

Green85

Fine with all of it except boat docks anywhere near Riverside or Pettibone. The aesthetics of that stretch need to stay exactly the way they are. People didn't object to the La Crosse Center encroaching on the park to only have a different encroachment (which will destroy the site lines) from the river itself.

Veridic

Riverboat casino / dinning. Petting Zoo. Toboggan run. Indoor shooting range. A Ferris wheel / lookout tower / space needle / tall thing you can go up in. Bungie jump off of Cass St Bridge. Underwater clear tunnel walkway to Pettibone.

capedcrusader

Well, maybe not downtown but I really would like to see a nice indoor shooting range in our area![thumbup]

DMoney

I second that motion

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