It's taken the City of La Crosse decades to decide what to do with the land formerly known as the "mobile oil site" just north of downtown across from Festival Foods. The final planning however, will take just 7 days.
Wednesday was the first night of a week-long session where city residents play a big part in how the site will be developed.
When you think of a major redevelopment, you might imagine endless committee meetings, studies and delays. That's not how this sight will be developed. The north side redevelopment is being handled by a Charrette. A seven day, non-stop brainstorming session that will, in the end, shape our city's future.
Wednesday's meeting started as a normal presentation, it didn't stay that way. In a burst of ideas, the north side redevelopment Charrette got underway. It's a flurry of creativity, creative energy," said Andrew Montgomery, an Urban Planner.
Residents give ideas for housing, parking, businesses anything they think will fit in the space. Some times the exchanges go well, other times it does not but it all the ideas add to the process.
"We'll bring them back three days later and continue that discussion, get more feedback, and go back through that feedback loop process three times," said Montgomery.
"It's fantastic to get so much feedback from so many people," said La Crosse resident Jerome Gundersen. Residents like Gundersen know the ideas he's giving could shape the city for a generation. "I've been waiting for this, I think everyone in town has been waiting to see what will happen with these undeveloped sites," said Gundersen.
While it seems like chaos, it's carefully thought out. "It's like a puzzle," said Montgomery, "it's thought otu and once you dive in, the initial jump in is difficult sometimes but usually by the end you come out with a nice product."
In just seven days the first few scribbles will become the future of the north side. "We really have to do the best job we can to keep mobile oil sight something for 100 years in the future rather than a sand lot," said Gundersen.
This was just the first of what will be multiple meetings. Planners will use the ideas from Wednesday's meeting to create their first draft, then repeat this process. Each one incorporating more ideas and getting the city closer to a final plan.
That plan will be presented next Tuesday night. If you would like to be part of this process, a complete list of meeting times is available here.