Friday - November 10, 2017 4:02 am

Council told $42 million might not be enough for La Crosse Center expansion

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Rendering of possible expansion project for La Crosse Center Rendering of possible expansion project for La Crosse Center

Favored plans need around $2-3 million more 

It looks like the La Crosse's city council might have to commit more money to a La Crosse Center expansion than previously planned.

The price tag for building improvements has gone down from a $75 million 'wish list' to a $42-million limit in the budget.

The city council was told Thursday night that even that might be $2-3 million short of the two options now being favored, which would extend the center west beyond Front St.

City council president Martin Gaul predicted that council approval will depend a lot on whether La Crosse will see a big economic impact from the expansion. Center board president Brent Smith said an economic impact statement will be ready in a week or two.

Center leaders say they need to improve the 37-year-old building to compete with similar facilities that are newer.

Council member Doug Happel said the city needs to have a "superb" La Crosse Center but there are other needs in town, as well.

"Keep in mind, all of us, that we have a fire station(s) coming up - more than one probably," Happel said. "And we have senior centers coming up. So there's a lot of things out there that are going to be having to be dealt with as we deal with the extra million or two that we may need."

Council member Jessica Olson serves on the La Crosse Center board and told others on the council that spending more now might lead to a really good future.

"We might get the bare bones of it but are we truly building a facility that's going to serve this community 30, 40, 50 years into the future?" she said.

The practical options for renovating the La Crosse Center are now down to two schemes, according to Center management and the consultants planning the renovation and expansion.

The council won't vote on a specific plan until early next year.

Last modified on Friday - November 10, 2017 4:16 am
Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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