After more than a century, a well-known park in La Crosse may be getting a name change.
Neighborhood leaders are hoping it will help restore pride in the community.
"Parks give neighborhoods identity,” said Andrew Londre, vice chair of the Powell-Hood Hamilton Neighborhood Association.
On the corner of 5th Avenue South and Hood Street in La Crosse, Hood Park's identity may soon come with a new name.
“It’s really an important step to help change the perception of this entire part of the town,” said Londre.
The park was named more than 100 years ago after the city's surveyor, but over time, the meaning behind the name was lost.
“When a park has been straddled with an undeserved reputation for two decades or more, then that has a huge impact on a neighborhood,” said Londre.
More than 20 years ago the area's first ever gang-related shooting took place at the park.
The neighborhood has since developed a reputation of drugs and violence that Londre said isn't true and needs to change.
“This neighborhood is a beautiful and vibrant place and things are changing for the better,” said Londre.
That's why he and members of the Powell-Hood Hamilton Neighborhood Association have proposed a change.
They want to name the park after George Poage, the first African-American athlete from La Crosse to medal in the Olympics more than a century ago.
“It's not just a name,” said Londre. “We're transforming this whole neighborhood by giving it a new name (and) a new identity of something that's inspiring.”
The park and surrounding neighborhood will soon go through a facelift as part of a joint project between Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center and the city.
The details are still in the works, but Michael Richards of Gundersen Lutheran said the changes will be fitting for the area.
“We want people to feel safe, and we want people to feel like they can make an investment in the neighborhood, and we want the people on the outside to come here and see what it has to offer,” said Richards.
Londre said the new potential name will be something everyone can be proud of.
“It’s going to give people, who live in the neighborhood, new hope for their neighborhood and where they live and a reason to have pride,” said Londre.
The name change isn't official yet.
The proposal has to be put to a vote by the common council, which won't happen for at least another couple of months.
The Powell-Hood Hamilton Neighborhood Association is also looking into making some big changes to Powell Park as part of revitalizing the neighborhood.