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Fish lab lease gets OK from La Crosse park board



Just a week after La Crosse’s city council approved new zoning for the old fish lab in Rivreside Park, the city’s Park Board approved a lease for developers who want to remake the building.

La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry director Jay Odegaard said Thursday that lease language shows that the two developers want to be good neighbors.

Odegaard quoted the lease agreement as saying, “Hatchery LLC recognizes that the lease premises are surrounded by the Riverside International Friendship Gardens, a place of beauty and peace, enjoyed by the general public, and it will do nothing to detract from these gardens.”

Tiffany Smith and Marty Wallesar of Hatchery, LLC, talked Tuesday on WIZM about their plans for the Fish Hatchery building.

Opponents of the plans for a beer garden and other businesses fear that there will be uncontrolled partying at the park, with possible damage to the gardens.

Odegaard says his department is trying to be transparent about the project, saying the city is “allowing people to take a look at this before it takes its final steps into the city council.”

A few citizens have accused City Hall of negotiating with the developers for months behind closed doors. One speaker at Thursday’s board meeting said the city has prevented other potential developers from competing to use the fish lab.

The city is in the midst of a two-phase renovation plan of the building at a cost of around $500,000 for each phase. Hatchery, LLC, has said it plans to spend another $1 million the property it will be renting, once a plan is approved.

The lease agreement now goes to the city finance committee, which meets on Nov. 4.


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 Comment

  1. R head

    October 22, 2021 at 9:01 am

    Has anyone ever thought about putting the big ingin back up with the blue baby head on the chief.

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