La Crosse Common Council OKs Riverside Park wedding venue after months of zoning controversy

Wedding Venue Outside Page 003
Artist's rendering shows proposed wedding venue at the old fish hatchery in Riverside Park.

LA CROSSE (WKBT) —After months of gnashing of teeth over a proposed entertainment venue in the former fisheries lab on public property in Riverside Park, the La Crosse Common Council approved an agreement Thursday for Hatchery LLC to operate the enterprise.

Hatchery’s proposal to have an AirBnB on the second floor of the building and a wedding venue/beer garden outside stirred controversy since it first surfaced several months ago in its request for a zoning change.

Opponents objected to, among other things, the city’s entering an agreement with a private business, potential parking problems and erosion of Riverside Park’s ambiance.

City officials’ parleys with residents and Hatchery principals helped smooth the angst.

Just to be sure, Common Council member Scott Neumeister sought and received assurances Thursday night that parking remains public.

Council member Mark Neumann alluded to the controversy’s origin in the zoning change request and said, “This is how our democracy works.”

Council member Rebecca Schwarz expressed gratitude to the city’s staff and community members, describing the pact as “all of our success.”

The agreement endorses a lease at a cost of $2,200 a month or 2.5 percent of gross annual income, whichever is greater than $26,400 a year, for the first four years. The lease balloons to $5,000 a month or 2.5 percent a month, whichever is greater than $60,000, for the next five years and increasing through the 20th year.

The city is paying for extensive work to rehabilitate and renovate the building.

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