Big changes coming to Riverside Park

Improvements in city's five-year plan include bandshell improvements

For many, summers in La Crosse wouldn’t be complete without music at Riverside Park.

Over the next several years, however, the park, as well as the Bandshell that plays host to musical acts, will be receiving an upgrade.

Back in April, La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department released its five-year strategic plan, outlining areas of improvement for the city’s parks.

The report contained over $2 million in improvements to Riverside Park, including an estimated $400,000 for the park’s bandshell, which plays host to the area’s musical acts.

It wouldn’t be summer without Moon Toons concerts at Riverside Park.

“It’s the best play to hear a concert on the whole Mississippi River,” Terry Bauer, a member from the Valley View Rotary, said.

But for all what musical artists bring to area, organizers said these concerts could be even better with an upgrade.

“We would like to have a new bandshell with a acoustical roof, protection from the elements, and we could put on some bigger concerts,” Bauer said.

It’s why Moon Toons has raised over $34,000 to help pay for a new sound system for the Bandshell.

“The people have been so supportive of the musicians, and the fundraising, when we pass the hat, so to speak,” Bauer said.

Over the next three years, the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department said Riverside park as a whole will look very different.

“The first phase is going to be the fountain, that’s been designed. We’re pushing the funding together on that, hopefully that will start very soon,” Steve Carolyn, director for the Parks and Recreation Department, said. “The next phase to will to relocate the road, that will move this (bandshell), and give us an opportunity to build this new bandshell outside the floodway.”

The end result, the city said, will be better than ever.

“Eventually what you’re going to end up with is a brand-new performing arts center. Everything from sound, lights, to stage performance. New seating. Everything,” Carolyn said.

It’s a plan designed to keep the music alive and well in Riverside Park.

“This is going to be a gem right here on the Mississippi River, when Riverside gets reworked,” Bauer said.

The city expects the first phase of the improvements, which includes the building of the fountain, could begin as early as late this fall or early spring.

According to the five-year plan, the work on a new bandshell could begin in 2017.
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