Eco Park group ends deal with the city

The city will take over control of the park after Sept. 30.

The group behind the Myrick Hixon Eco Park in La Crosse announced that it is backing out of the project.  The city will take over control of the park after Sept. 30.

Myrick Hixon Eco Park Inc. voted unanimously to end its agreement with the city of La Crosse and stepping out of the picture. Both sides agree that the partnership has been difficult, but want the Eco Park to continue in some form so it can continue to educate people about the Coulee region.

Leaders of the Eco Park said that the city, which owns the park property, made it difficult for the board to continue making improvements in the park. The biggest issues were agreeing on insurances costs and fees charged to guests.

“If you wanted to rent snow shoes it would cost you a little more if you were a non resident versus a resident,” said David Foran, the vice president of the Eco Park Board.

Those small costs made all the difference when it came to running the Eco Park, said Foran

The director of La Crosse Parks and Recreation said that the agreement between the two groups was simple.

 “The city has little over a million dollars invested in that program, the eco park in exchange for managing it and taking care of all the day to operational costs paid nothing to the city,”said Steve Carylon, Parks and Recreation Director.

With the end date fast approaching, Carylon hopes to work something out  with the EcoPark Board or another group,  so the building won’t have to close its doors for good.

“I am concerned that it’s going to be an expense added to the city to turn lights on, heat the building staff in, so it puts an extra burden particularly the Park and Rec Department over where those resources come from,” said Carylon

The Eco Park Board said that it’s made its final decision, but wants to provide assistance during the transition so the city can find another group to continue to use the park what it is meant for

“Our main concern now is to insure that the environmental education that we’ve been so proud of over the last five years,” said Foran.