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Fish hatchery remodeling under fire at La Crosse public hearing

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The city of La Crosse may have a lot of selling to do, to gain support for a new development in the old fish hatchery along the riverfront.

On Wednesday, two developers showed off their plans to remodel the former visitor bureau building — located on the north side of Riverside Park — but people attending the hour-long public hearing were still skeptical.

The presentation about the “Hatchery” project by developers Marty Walleser and Tiffany Smith was met with audience comments such as “crazy,” “horrible” and “We don’t care.”

Ideas for a beer garden and a bed-and-breakfast have been criticized by people living near the building.

One speaker named John said he doesn’t want nearly a million dollars wasted on a building prone to flooding, and located near three rivers.

“What do you think it’s going to do to your building that you’ve plowed a million bucks into, and who’s going to repair that when it floods again?” he said. “Are the taxpayers going to be stuck with it?”

Neighbors living near the hatchery have been objecting to putting a bar in the building or renting it out for parties.

Another speaker, named Nancy, objected to plans to serve alcohol at that building.

“We’ve got beautiful international gardens,” she said. “What do you do when you’re drinking and you walk away, and you’ve gotta do whatever? You’re gonna go right in those international gardens and do whatever you want to do.”

Others agreed with Nancy that the public should have a chance to vote on the project.

Dan Trussoni of the park department supports the investment plans of the two developers behind the project, rather than keeping the fish lab idle.

Another public hearing is set for 5-6 p.m. Monday, again at the Southside Neighborhood Center.

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Kopski

    September 9, 2021 at 5:48 am

    I Really wish there were a way to know before hand when, and where topics were going to be discussed publicly at City Council meetings. I am deeply opposed to the Idea of having an open Bar at the old fishary building in Riverside Park, and would have been at the meeting to voice my opinion against it.

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