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Changes in fire station plans under dispute at City Hall

Brad Williams

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La Crosse’s mayor has charged that the city council is trying to “micromanage” plans for new fire stations. 

Members of the city council finance committee were asked on Thursday to deny a possible change of priority to a station near campus, instead of a new Gillette Street station. 

North-side council member Andrea Richmond criticized fire chief Ken Gilliam for making changes in building plans.

“I am very concerned that you’re gonna take something that the north side has had plans for, a new station, right across from the school, the Northside Elementary School,” said Richmond. “Now all of a sudden, you’re gonna change the scope, which we were never told that there was gonna be offices in there.”

Proposed changes in the schedule of fire station projects have come about lately, because of attempts by preservation groups to save the existing Fire Station 4 on Gillette Street, which had been set for demolition.

Fire Chief Ken Gilliam has suggested changing spending plans for the next two years, in order to move ahead with a new fire station at UWL.

Mayor Kabat says a call for a delay complicates plans which have been in the works for years.

“We had a very clear plan for Fire Station number 4, up until a few months ago, when certain council members started to micromanage the process, ” said Kabat. He called the current plans “a jumbled situation at best with an unclear path forward.”

A delay in planning was voted down, and a proposal to alter spending plans for the stations goes to the full council next week. Gilliam says that would allow ground to be broken on a new north-side station this year.   

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.