La Crosse mayor reflects on city’s challenges and successes in 2021

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — This year marked big changes at La Crosse’s City Hall.

Voters elected Mitch Reynolds as mayor, to replace Tim Kabat, who decided not to run for re-election.

Reynolds is closing in on his first year in office, reflecting on the city’s challenges and successes for this year.

He describes 2021 as a year of “guarded optimism.”

“We know that we still face challenges, but an optimism about the future,” Reynolds said.

The city is still managing to work its way through the pandemic.

It is causing labor shortages and supply chain issues to businesses across the region.

Forcing some businesses to adjust hours because of these problems.

“We could see the impacts all the time in the way that we socialize, in how businesses operate,” Reynolds said.

There have been some rough patches, but the city has accomplished a lot in 2021.

Reynolds says one of his biggest priorities continues to be adequate housing.

This year, the city broke ground on the new River Point District, which Reynolds says will feature 1,000 units.

Groundbreaking also began on another housing complex on the North Side called the Fifth Ward Residences.

“There’s some really exciting things going on with the housing development that I had talked about before, and I think that puts us in a really good direction,” Reynolds said.

A $68 million upgrade to La Crosse’s wastewater treatment plant is also in progress. The upgrade includes better reliability, energy efficiency and flood resiliency.

“That’s probably the most exciting public works project that’s gone on in the city in I don’t know in how long,” Reynolds said.

And don’t forget about the expansion of the La Crosse Center.

“Bringing that to the finish line, that can be huge for our hospitality industry,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he has seen more of a willingness for the city to work together with the county, especially tackling homelessness.

“We’ve got a lot of things that we’ve got to do to find ways to permanently end homelessness in our community, and that’s a big, big challenge,” Reynolds said.

An issue he says he’s looking forward to addressing homelessness with even more communities into next year.

In 2021, La Crosse started sharing fire services with the Holmen Area Fire Department.

The city also came into a new agreement with the city of Onalaska to share sewer services.

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