Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Whose Riverside?

[UPDATE: The mayor has vetoed for cost and design. The original council vote was 7 to 4. Please email them with your opinions.]

This is a guest post from Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute. He has written to the city council about the proposal to spend nearly $50 million on expanding the La Crosse Center, including a large box like thing that will sit over part of the park. There's a good letter about this in today's La Crosse Tribune about this. I sent my letter this afternoon. In addition to putting a big ugly box on our most beautiful park, I feel this expensive project is too exclusive and there are other uses for $49 million that would benefit more of the people who will be paying it.

Consider that taxpayers will be paying for this for many years. Are there other things that taxpayers might pay for that would benefit more taxpayers? Consider that the La Crosse Center is one of the biggest energy users in the city. Will this proposed addition be super efficient or make the rest of the center more efficient or otherwise reduce it's energy use/carbon footprint? Consider that Riverside Park is one of our public treasures that the whole of the public gets to enjoy for free. Will this proposed addition enhance the park or detract from its benefit for the public's use and enjoyment? 

The Council will vote on Thursday. You can email them your thoughts at council at cityoflacrosse dot org.

Dear Friends,

We all have a connection to La Crosse. It's "our" city and important to the vitality of our region. If you value Riverside Park for its beauty and want to protect it in the future for your family's enjoyment I hope you will take just a minute or two to write an email to the La Crosse city Council and Mayor:

City Council: 

The vote in the city Council is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday. And then I assume the mayor has to sign-off on the project as well.

Their plan, which is moving forward quickly, is to expand the La Crosse convention center in a manner where they will build a large addition to the second floor .... Which will tower above a portion of the park. Please see photo and La Crosse Tribune story:

Mark's letter:

Dear councilmembers,

I run a national nonprofit organization. We are officially headquartered in Cornucopia, Wisconsin with staff, virtually-officed, throughout the country. A good percentage of our employees and contractors, such as our certified public accountant, are here in the Driftless Region. La Crosse is our center for culture and commerce. We are the type of people and organizations you want to attract to spend our hard earned money in your city (I live in the Vernon County community of La Farge and most of our other local staff are in Viroqua/Westby).

This past March we held our annual meeting in La Crosse flying in our Board of Directors and staff from around the country. We also held a reception inviting hundreds of members in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa to join us.

I have always viewed the park along the river as your city's "front yard." With friends, business to conduct, yoga classes and sailing I am in La Crosse 1-3 times every week. Many times, throughout most of the year, those visits include a walk in the park and I see lots of tourists enjoying the same experience.

As Will Rogers once said, "Buy land. They're not making any more of it."

The people of La Crosse already own this exquisitely beautiful piece of land. There are many other options for buildings. Because I have attended the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference (MOSES conference) every year since it has been hosted in La Crosse I can imagine the advantages of the expansion and the beauty of the view overlooking the river. But this would come at the great expense of degrading part of the park directly and irreparably impacting the "viewscape" of much of the remaining park.

Don't do it!

Sincerely yours,

Mark Kastel

The Cornucopia Institute

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