Rezoning approved for proposed trail project

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A project causing disagreement between the Parks and Rec Department and some La Crosse residents was brought to City Council on Thursday.

Grandma’s Gateway has been in the works for the past two years.

It would add new trails and access points on the bluff above 29th Street.

They would run above several homes, which is a safety concern for some neighbors.

As a solution, the City proposed transferring the affected properties from the single-family district to the conservancy district.

Tonight the City Council passed the rezoning with a vote of nine to three.

Although this is a win for those advocating for Grandma’s Gateway, it left some very disappointed.

“There is no negotiating with the Rec Department. They do not want to negotiate anything. They want it all. They want it all,” said Christine Clair, a resident on 29th Street. She continues to say, “They don’t care about conservancy, environmental issues, or safety issues.”

However, people involved with the project disagree.

“One of the things in the plan done by Barr Engineering talks about how the formalization of trails in these bluff lands will help mitigate unwanted environmental impact,” said Jay Odegaard, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for the City of La Crosse. He goes on the say, “What we’re looking at is not an untouched area, but rather an area that’s getting a lot of heavy use. What we’re trying to do in this plan is to change those unsustainable trails into sustainable trials.”

Odegaard says when the project gets underway, an ecologist will work with trail crews to make recommendations about the trail routes.

The trail project will move forward, but Clair says a group of concerned neighbors have been out signing petitions and plan to continue fighting to keep the project away from 29th street.