LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The city of La Crosse is moving a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant to the All Abilities Trane Park Project. That money was originally going to be used for renovations to the historic Rivoli Theatre building in downtown La Crosse, but that plan fell through.
The All Abilities Park project has been in the works since 2014. La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department officials said these new funds have them close to beginning phase two of construction.
The idea came from a group of local moms.
"We would get together and have picnics," said Chris Jones, mother and board member of the La Crosse Area Autism Foundation.
Jones and board member Pam Groth have sons on the autism spectrum. They wanted a place for their children to play that could help improve their lifestyle.
"This will be a place for him to go and meet up with friends and just get some activity in," Jones said.
Groth said this park will help children such as her son develop better social skills.
"He has even said to me, 'I wish I could be more social,' but he doesn't know how to interact," she said. "We are hoping something like this will help them."
Phase one of this project is happening right now.
"It's come so far," Jones said.
La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Jay Odegaard said the move by the city Tuesday night has phase two on the horizon.
"It's an exciting time," Odegaard said. 'We are going to move forward and hopefully, we will have this done so users and come and start playing on it next summer. "What we are looking at is getting the main playground area of this project out to bid this fall."
That grant money will go toward equipment the park will need.
Jones says when this project is done, La Crosse will have a new destination.
"I think people will come to La Crosse just to see this park," she said.
The park will be the first of its kind in Wisconsin, offering a place for children and adults of all ages and abilities.
Odegaard said his department will request another $450,000 in tax incremental funds to reach its $3 million goal for phase two. He said if everything goes according to plan, the park could be completed by next September.
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