LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Plans are starting to take shape for how to improve the Powell-Hood-Hamilton neighborhood in La Crosse.

It's a joint project between Gundersen Lutheran Hospital and the city.

Resident have been taking great interest in the project and the opportunity to pitch in ideas.

Consultants working on the project held two public input meetings this last week.

On Saturday, residents were given two stickers and asked to rank which improvements they think are most needed.

The top three were developing a strategy for blighted areas, addressing safety and security and developing a multipurpose building.

That would be similar to the Grand River Station which offers a mix of housing and retail opportunities all in one building.   

"It's an important piece of the puzzle because we've seen through our market analysis that there's a $20 million dollar gap because of all the people living in this neighborhood and no retail and no restaurants. There's opportunity to bring in those businesses and for those businesses to be supported," said Ben Sporer, project manager with Perkins and Will.

Improving safety and security is one of the top concerns for some of the residents who live in the neighborhoods.

Some say all the other improvements don't matter if they don't feel safe.

"Safety. Number one is safety. I don't feel safe walking around the neighborhood. I would really love a park but if I can't walk to the park, if I have to walk through this bad neighborhood to get to the park you shot me down right there, so safety. As a young single woman it's really important to me," said Powell-Hood-Hamilton resident Kristin Royalty.

Consultants say one of the initial and most easily implemented ideas to improve safety is adding more lighting to the streets and alleys.

They will take what they heard in the public input meetings this week and come back in March with a final plan presentation.