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Bandstand and canopy for La Crosse’s Riverside Park gets historic approval



There’s movement forward for both a canopy and the Riverside Park bandshell restoration after a Thursday night meeting.

The very night a Moon Tunes concert in La Crosse’s Riverside park was rescheduled because of rain, the La Crosse Heritage Preservation Commission approved the design for a permanent canopy for the bandstand — something that would have made the postponement uncessessary.

The canopy is part of a $500,000 private fundraising effort. Meanwhile, restoration of the 1930 bandstand, itself, has also been approved and construction on that $1.14 million project could begin as soon as September.

The canopy still requires approval by the city’s parks board. If that happens, it would provide shelter for musicians on stage at the bandstand.

Not everyone’s happy with the canopy design.

Former city council member John Satory argued against the canopy in front of the Heritage Preservation Commission.

“I really do have a problem with it,” Satory said. “To me it totally detracts from the original structure.”

Architect Roald Gundersen acknowledged the canopy design was different from the original art deco style of the bandstand, but it still had deep connections locally with the arches that mimic the bridge across the Mississippi and the whole trees used in construction.

“What we’re trying to do is add a historical context,” Gundersen said. “This town was first and foremost a lumber town.”

Artist and Heritage Preservation Commission member David Riel wanted the canopy to incorporate a few more bits of style of the original bandstand but, overall said, “I think it’s important to have the new construction be different from the original. It’s lovely. I think it looks great.”

The bandstand has been budgeted by the city and championed by the parks department.

The canopy, so far, has been given a lukewarm response by the city even though it involves spending no tax dollars.

“Them Coulee Boys” was scheduled for Moon Tunes on Thursday before weather forced its postponement. It has been moved to Tuesday.

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