The La Crosse Center Board is Moving Forward with New Plans

The La Crosse center board is moving forward with new plans after the common council sustained the mayor’s veto of the centers expansion project yesterday.

Plans approved today would not expand the center into Riverside Park, but instead could add another story to the building.

The board thought everything in their plan from yesterday was essential to the overall project.

But now that their design was rejected the board is saying they must reevaluate their priorities to figure out what the center needs most.

To top it all off they’re going to have to do it without one of their board members Jessica Olson who officially resigned from the board during today’s meeting.

“I think we were all blindsided,” Olson said.

Olson said she wasn’t expecting there to be so much public backlash over the board’s plans to expand into Riverside Park and she thinks her resignation will be in the board’s best interest.

“I really felt that if the board were to go forward in tact exactly as it was before that public skepticism, public doubt and the public anger wouldn’t have an outlet,” Olson said.

The councilwoman says she’s stepping down to let someone else with a new perspective come in

“I want the center board to have a fresh clean start and I have no doubt that any of my colleagues on council are perfectly capable of stepping into this role and shining,” Olson said.

The rest of the board including the La Crosse Center Board Chair Brent Smith didn’t’t want to lose her.

“We wish she would reconsider,” Smith said.

Despite leaving Olson said she still has faith in the project.

“All the pieces are there for this to be successful because the center board members are good intelligent very capable people. The architects are phenomenal people, Olson said.”

It didn’t take long after Olson’s departure for the board to start making new plans.

“We still want to break ground in 2019 and even to accomplish that we’re going to have to move,” Smith said.

Due to the public backlash and last night’s council vote the board decided they will not be expanding into Riverside Park.

“I think the overwhelming objection was the park,” Smith said.

The board says they originally wanted to expand into the park to add extra square footage to the center but they are now coming up with new design plans which they hope to have finished in less than two months.

“I think the biggest challenge that we have in the next 60 days on the alternatives is to come up with enough square footage that still provides the most economic benefit for the building and the community,” Smith said.

Despite the challenges the board is still optimistic.

I think in the end there’s going to be a good alternative that we can live with, the council can live with, the mayor can live with and most importantly the citizens of La Crosse can live with,” Smith said.

The board is now moving forward with three separate design plans which they’re informally labeling good, better and best.

The first design will be what they can get if they spend 42 million dollars which is the budget they’ve been approved for.

The two other designs will be what they can get with 46 and 49 million dollars.

The board says they hope to be back in front of the council with their new design plans within 90 days.