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Preservation panel hopes for more effort in keeping La Crosse’s historic buildings

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FILE - The La Crosse Fire Department battles a fire in the Casino Bar building from Pearl Street in downtown La Crosse, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

Members of the La Crosse preservation committee are frustrated by seeing some historic buildings torn down and others get neglected.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Heritage Preservation Commission, city council member Mackenzie Mindel said good quality, low-cost housing in the city is becoming scarce.

“If there’s any affordable place to live, it is nearly unsafe, very unsafe in many situations,” Mindel said. “We have no middle, where there is quality housing that is in affordable range.”

Mindel added that people are forced to go outside the city to find good housing at low prices, and she doesn’t want them moving out of La Crosse.

Early this year, a list of La Crosse’s 10 most endangered properties was released. Of those 10, the Marble Works on 3rd Street has since been torn down, and the Club Tucan, also on 3rd, could come down soon.

David Riel, on the Preservation Commission, worries that the city isn’t doing enough to protect historic buildings. He pointed to a fire that damaged the Casino Bar last winter.

“To me, that probably could have been a preventable situation, seems to me, with people camping out in the back behind there, lighting fires,” Riel said. “A lot of this seems like enforcement.”

Riel would like to see another endangered building list put together for next year, with many of the same buildings from 2021 remaining on the list.

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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