La Crosse’s Burns Park to undergo estimated $504,000 revitalization project

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)– There are some big changes in store for one La Crosse park this spring. Burns Park, which is near the downtown area, will undergo an estimated half a million dollar renovation.

Courtney Lokken lives close by Burns Park. Her home is right around the corner.

“Just near the library,” said Lokken, who serves as the chair for the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

Living in the downtown area has been a great fit for her family. They’re within walking distance to the library, the Children’s Museum of La Crosse and other kid-friendly places.

“And we do have Cameron Park, where they can play,” Lokken said.

But a few years ago, Lokken and some other community members and groups started talking about ways to improve the area to go with the downtown La Crosse City Vision plan. Now the La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, Downtown Neighborhood Association, Washburn on the Park Apartments, Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House, La Crosse Library, Western Technical College and other neighbors have a vision for the park.

“We’re really looking to make it a community space,” said Kat Barkhahn, community program specialist for the parks department.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association created an ad hoc committee for the project in 2018. But things came together this past year.

“We’ve got together a plan and are moving forward with updates on this park,” Barkhahn said.

City officials added a swing set in July 2018 to make the park more family-friendly and reduce crime. But this will go well beyond that.

“I think this is going to offer a really unique, whimsical playscape for children in addition to programming opportunities,” Lokken said.

“Just a little bit more fun to bring into this park,” Barkhahn said.

A preliminary site plan prepared by River Architects shows new playground equipment, landscaping, benches, a picnic area, art wall and chess stations.

Burns Park Concept

Courtesy of River Architects.

Burns Park Image 1

Courtesy of River Architects.

Burns Park Image 2

Courtesy of River Architects.

Burns Park Site Plan

Courtesy of River Architects.

“We really are excited about opportunities to partner with the library for children’s storytimes or other activities as well as adult programming,” Lokken said.

In the end, they want it to appeal to many different people once the project is completed.

“We’re really looking to make it a community space and have it as a multi-generational area for everyone to come to. Bring their kids, bring their grandparents and just make sure everyone can come and enjoy the beautiful park,” Barkhahn said.

This project is pretty unique in that they’ve secured most of the funding. $170,000 comes from Downtown Neighborhood Association Capital Improvement Project funds, $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds and $150,000 in TID 11 funds.

However, they’ll need potentially $34,000 more to cover the estimated cost, which they are hoping to fundraise for. More information on how people can donate to the project can be found on the department’s website.

The group hopes to break ground on the project this spring. People would be able to enjoy the revitalized park around the end of the summer.