Group pushing for Myrick Park Zoo return

A group of La Crosse residents want to bring the animals back to Myrick Park.

The Myrick Park Zoo closed in 2007, but after about eight years with no zoo, Facebook is joining thousands of people who are calling for it to open up once again.

About three weeks ago, Sue Lacoste created the Facebook group Bring Back The Old Myrick Park. At the same time, Dawn Potaracke was creating a GoFundMe page to raise money for the return of the park hoping to return the park to its fun, animal-filled past.

The two did not know each other at the time, but when they met, they quickly realized they are not alone in their goal.

Since then, they have raised a few hundred dollars, have more than 3,200 people in the Facebook group and have made enough noise to get the city of La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department to take notice.

The Myrick Park Zoo was dedicated in 1929. For nearly 80 years monkeys, bears and peacocks entertained visitors.

“There’s so many generations that when they think about there life here, Myrick Park was it,” said Lacoste.

In 2007 the Myrick Park Zoo closed, and was turned into a space dedicated to environmental education and outdoor recreation.

But a few La Crosse residents want back the park they remember.

“The things that were here, the zoo, the concession stand, the rides, only a better version,” Lacoste said.

Saturday five members of the Bring Back the Old Myrick Park group sat down with the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department to find out if their ideas can become a reality once again.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea to try and bring back some of the elements of what was here, whether it’s some type of animal enclosure, some types of play structures,” La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department director Steve Carlyon said.

Carlyon said the city is fully behind the group and their ideas.

“We’ve encouraged them to try to partner with other local groups to get together with City Council members, work through neighborhood associations,” Carlyon said. But he said there are some challenges.

“I think they understand that certain types of animals may not be feasible to be brought in here because of the cost to maintain them, but there are other opportunities that are out there,” Carlyon said.

Lacoste and Potaracke said the city offered plenty of resources to help them achieve their goal, but now comes the real work.

“He told us to think big. Don’t think small, think big. Realistically, it’s not going to happen overnight, we well know that, but with the community’s support I think we can bring it back to what it was, even better,” said Potaracke.

Those in favor of the zoo will now try to partner with WisCorps, which has similar ideas for Myrick Park, and other groups throughout La Crosse. The group will also be applying to become a nonprofit organization before starting the fundraising process.