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Steering Committee starts work on 2040 La Crosse Downtown Plan

Kaitlyn Riley

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Looking at the city’s future, members of the Imagine 2040 La Crosse Downtown Plan Steering Committee did a 2.3-mile walking tour in La Crosse Friday to examine the need of La Crosse businesses, entrepreneurs, residents, and visitors.

The overall downtown plan initially started in the early 1990s and was updated in the 2000s to be called the City Vision 2020 Plan, according to Urban Planner Cory Scott. Now looking ahead to the next 20 years, a local group decided to get their feet on the ground to experience the needs of the city firsthand.

“It is an understanding of what do we have now, where do we want to go, and how do we get there?” Scott said.

The recommendations could include physical changes such as creating more pedestrian crossings, but also program developments.

“The two key points we have heard are customers and connections,” Scott said. “Connecting all the way from the river to the downtown, but also going beyond that into the neighborhoods and out to the bluffs.”

COVID-19 is putting an interesting twist to the thinking process as individuals and businesses alike are re-evaluating structure in a pandemic.

“With any of these situations, it calls for innovation,” Scott said. “Back in the early 1900s, we had pandemics, and then we had the roaring 20s. We know that we have gone through these experiences, but it is about adapting and pivoting.”

Examples he mentioned included more outside seating and access to La Crosse’s natural outdoor opportunities.

The steering committee will provide oversight month to month as well a guidance for the plan.

“They are essentially providing us directions throughout the entire process,” Scott said. “Today is our first opportunity to be able to get out in the field and look at things. It gives people more texture and context for what we are trying to think about for the future. The amount of participation has been incredible and really shows that people love their community and are very interested in the future of downtown.”

More information can be found online at imaginedowntownlacrosse.com.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.