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As a new ramp rises near the La Crosse riverfront, the U-W-L campus is moving ahead with its plans for a 600-stall ramp. Admittedly, it's not on the top of Chancellor Joe Gow's to-do list, but it's coming up soon, with construction ready to start next fall. The cost of a long-term parking permit at U-W-L would rise about 80 dollars, to pay for the combination ramp and police station. Earlier this week, Gow said a renovation of the Cowley Science Hall might have to wait until after 2015, because the campus power plant needs to be modernized first.
It's like finding an extra five bucks in your pocket. Except bigger. Way bigger. The city of La Crosse is sitting on a wad of cash that has now grown bigger than $20 million. It's not mad money. It's money that's in a revolving fund balance to deal with unexpected expenses and to pay bills in case shared revenue from the state comes in late. Still, the city's never passed the $20 million mark for the fund balance in the past. The city's auditor says, while some of that money is committed to other uses, about $19.5 million of it can be used.
The La Crosse fire department may soon be able to save some money. By hiring new firefighters. A city council committee has given the okay to allow the department to start filling lingering vacancies. It's those vacancies that are costing the department record amounts of overtime. But those same vacancies take time to fill, says fire chief Gregg Cleveland. He says the department, with the number of openings it has right now, would be hard pressed to fill all those openings immediately. New hires in the department have been frozen to this point by mayor Matt Harter.
For awhile, that trolley was really something in downtown La Crosse. Great for giving historic tours around town. That was two summers ago. Before the city realized its streetcar-bus hybrid wasn't getting used in a way that was acceptable to the feds. "It was purchased with federal dollars and the regulations on the city for using it as something other than public transit is the reason it's not getting used," says MTU boss Keith Carlson. So, now, the trolley's going bye-bye. Not a simple thing, says Carlson. The same federal money that went into the trolley also makes it difficult to get rid of.
A much smaller apartment building plan for Onalaska. Developers who had planned a three-story, 90 unit building at Locust and Oak Avenue North have succumbed to public pressure and cut plans by about a third. Onalaska city planner Jason Gilman believes the new, smaller development answers issues involving things like increased traffic and negative effects on neighboring properties. The new plans call for a 60 unit development.