Changes to bluff trail project moving forward

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A project that the La Crosse Parks and Rec Department is working on has some community members concerned.

Over the last two years, the department has been planning new trails and access points on the bluff.

The project is called Grandma’s Gateway.

They would run along 29th Street, above several homes.

Neighbors say this is a safety issue.

Some concerns are soil erosion and ecological impact.

They feel like the city hasn’t involved them in the project.

In a meeting on Monday, people from both sides discussed the issue.

The department says they have reached out to the community about this project many times.

But people living along 29th street say they’ve been excluded.

Both sides say communication is the problem.

“We’ve had a great difficulty getting anybody to take us seriously on this. So we are hoping that by coming here tonight and talking to the planning commission that they will listen and agree to put this on hold until we can get more information,” said 29th St. resident, Christine Clair.

Clair says the city needs to look more closely at the safety concerns.

But Jed Olson, project coordinator for the Outdoor Recreation Alliance,  says these concerns they have already been addressed.

“Our agenda is to bring out and highlight the positives, acknowledge that there are concerns on any project we do. And those concerns are the same that we’ve had from the very beginning of the project.”

The city plans to transfer the properties for the trails and access points from the single-family district to the conservancy district.

This will allow a neighborhood access point to Grandad Bluff Park.

One council member says relationships need to be rebuilt if they want the project to be successful.

“I would hope, that as we move forward, we work with the neighbors, answer their concerns, and build this together, where it’s something everyone is proud of,” said Scott Neumeister, District 2, Common Council.

Another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night to move forward with the district change.