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Petition drive aims to cancel La Crosse’s plan to house homeless at south-side motel

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FILE - Tents cover Houska Park in mid-November, just before the city of La Crosse moved the homeless population out of Houska Park and into the Econo Lodge for winter, (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

The recent decision by the La Crosse city council to buy the Maple Grove Motel to shelter the homeless has inspired a petition drive against the purchase. 

A website called LaCrosseHomeless.com is collecting signatures, with a message saying, “We need your help by March 10th.”  That’s when the city council has its monthly meeting for March. 

The purchase of the motel on Mormon Coulee Road for $1.5 million was approved at a special council meeting on Feb. 22. As of Wednesday morning, the petition drive reportedly had gathered close to 200 signatures. Currently, there is no item on the city council agenda for Thursday night dealing with the motel purchase.

The website argues that the city plan would kick out people who are already living at Maple Grove, and would only provide enough room for about one-fourth of the people in La Crosse identified as unsheltered.  

The petition is sponsored by Citizens for Sensible Homelessness Solutions, which argues online that buying the Maple Grove Motel is a “rushed solution” that might also involve a conflict of interest for some city employees.

As of Wednesday morning, the website said it had gathered almost 200 signatures to present to the city council.  

The council voted unanimously last month to purchase the motel, which could be renovated for temporary housing. 

Roughly 100 unsheltered people have been living at the north-side Econo Lodge during the winter. That deal with the hotel ends April 1.

The city had planned on buying the Chamber of Commerce building downtown. A private buyer, however, came in and purchased the property for $2.1 million in cash.

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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. SueCalloway

    March 9, 2022 at 11:54 am

    I disapprove of using the motel for the homeless…..where are the people going that live there now?

  2. Kent Porter

    March 10, 2022 at 7:46 am

    The Harry J Olson Building is being shut down on the north side , why not purchase that , Give the HOMELESS folks some hammers , wood and and materials and have them fix it up ( since they will be living there for free !!!!! Then they can get off the drugs and 8AM vodka breakfast’s” go across the tracks to KWIK TRIP and get JOBS

  3. R head

    March 10, 2022 at 9:28 am

    Buy them plane ticket to California the weather better they get free needle they can shit on the street it will help them repopulate the state. Solves La Crosse problem. By the way I am not a rocket scientist

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