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La Crosse Center board pledges to build new Zielke Suite

Brad Williams

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The name of Patrick Zielke will live on somewhere in the La Crosse Center, when the building is remodeled in the next two years. 

The existing suite, named after the former La Crosse mayor, will be removed as part of the renovation, but the center board of directors voted Monday to put the Zielke name somewhere else in the building. 

Center board chair Brent Smith thinks that when people, who haven’t heard of Zielke, are made aware of his role in downtown development, they’re more open to honoring him.

“We wouldn’t be standing (in the La Crosse Center) today without the work of Pat Zielke,” Smith said. “It was not only this building but the Radisson, it was the Heileman building as we used to call it … it was his dream, and he worked very hard to accomplish that.”

Pat Zielke was mayor of La Crosse from 1975-1997 and, early in his term, he pushed to have a civic center and the Radisson Hotel built near the river.

In other La Crosse Center business, the plan for a new hallway on the west side of the building is being knocked out of the budget, saving about $1 million. 

The center board reaffirmed an earlier decision to take a “west connector” plan out of the budget to keep the spending total under the City Hall mandate of $42 million. 

By eliminating that part of the project, money can be used to supply movable “air walls” inside the North Hall, which will be rebuilt.

A decorative wooden ceiling in a La Crosse Center ballroom is also being identified as a priority to be built, with money saved by not adding the connector to the west side of the center.  

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