Wisconsin News

Opposition still the dominant voice in La Crosse parking proposal debate

City holds final two public meetings, finds little support

Opposition still the dominant voice in La Crosse parking proposal debate

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Opposition to the proposed parking changes in La Crosse continues to be the dominant voice.

The proposal, laid out earlier this month, would include no overnight parking without a permit, changing all city streets to two hour parking, and year-round alternate side parking.

Of the about 20 people in attendance at an afternoon public meeting Thursday, only one supported it. The committee who proposed these changes is getting quite the earful. "We have clearly indicated that we've heard people, that it will not go forward just the way it is, that we'll make some changes," said City Council Member Sara Sullivan.

The changes, as proposed, would impact the whole city. However, the area that is getting the most attention is around university campuses.

The students want a place to park, but the residents don't want their streets to be parking lots. "Parking is difficult for us right now, but this would make it vastly more difficult for us," said UW-L student Josh Gran, "we really don't think this is the way to solve the problem, it's really just going to make the problem worse for a larger area of the community."

Resident Dan Duncanson disagrees. "UW-L kids, they do have parking available to them, whether it's in a lot or the ramp, but they don't want to pay the price to do it, they want to drive around for half an hour and find a place to park, for free," said Duncanson.

Another public session in the evening wasn't any different.  About 60 people were at the meeting, and of the approximately 20 who spoke, only one supported the idea. That means in the three public meetings, speakers were about 50 to 3 against the proposals.

Now the city council will look over all public comments and move forward knowing changes have to be made. "We had already started the last week with the first session, and after today's two sessions we'll be looking at all them and coming up with a plan that's possibly going to work and look a lot better than what it is," said Council Member Fran Formanek.

Many residents are saying the council should scrap the idea altogether, but the city says that's not an option. They say while this proposal was met with opposition, it was meant to start a conversation about parking problems in parts of the city. "There are problems in the City of La Crosse, and we're going to address them as best as we can and it's important, again, that we get the input of the public," said Formanek.

Formanek says the council will now rework the proposal throughout the Summer and talk again this Fall. They wanted to assure the public that they are nowhere near ready to vote on anything.

Thursday's presentation was the same as the previous two, even though the idea was met with overwhelming opposition from the start. The council wanted to keep the presentation the same until everyone had a chance to weigh in.

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