‘Great public-private partnership’: Viking, American Queen to invest in La Cross levee improvements

American Queen
American Queen stops for a visit in La Crosse. (WKBT Channel 8 News Now photo)

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The La Crosse Parks Board approved docking agreements Thursday with the Viking Cruise Lines and the American Queen Steamboat Co. in which the companies will contribute to improving the boat levee at Riverside Park as well as pay annual docking fees.
“It’s a great public-private partnership,” said Jim Flottmeyer, project specialist with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Under the agreement with Viking, the international line will invest $125,000 on June 1 and another $125,000 on Oct. 1 to for the levee work, with bids to be let in May, Flottmeyer said.
In addition, Viking will be charged $20,000 a year for docking fees during the first year of the agreement, $22,500 a year for each of five years of the first renewal pact and $25,000 annually in each of the five years of the second renewal period.
The American Queen agreement calls for the New Albany, Ind., company to invest $25,000 on May 1 and the same amount on Sept. 1 for the levee work.
The annual docking fee for the American Queen will be $1 this year, and $20,000 a year from 2022 to 2031, according to the agreement.
The annual fees are to be paid regardless of how many times the companies dock vessels, although they need not pay if they don’t use the levee at all during any given year.
The agreements give the companies non-exclusive but priority docking privileges for one boat at a time. The companies will give the city their schedules 24 months in advance so the Parks Department can take them into account in approving events for other companies or organizations, Flottmeyer said.
The companies’ capital improvement investments will go toward the levee work, while the docking fee proceeds in ensuing years will go into a Riverside Park account, he said.
The agreements are similar to past years, but “the biggest change is their investment back” into the levee, said Christa Berg, an administrative assistant in the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department.
The vessels will be able to use the levee for embarking and disembarking passengers, to receive supplies and fuel, to off-load trash for disposal, to perform minor maintenance work and other activities associated with overnight passenger vehicles.