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City holding special committee meeting Monday to reconsider plans to buy Maple Grove Motel for homeless program

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La Crosse city leaders apparently have changed their minds about buying a south-side motel, to provide bridge housing for homeless residents.

Special meetings of the Finance and Personnel Committee and the City’s common council have been scheduled for 5 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. Monday, respectively, to reconsider a plan to purchase the Maple Grove Motel on Mormon Coulee Road.

The council approved the purchase at a February meeting, with plans to assume ownership of the motel at the end of March. The deal had been criticized recently by the Salvation Army, as well as neighbors of Maple Grove, who had concerns about safety and a quiet atmosphere at the park.

The plan also could have a possible conflict of interest, because records show that the motel is owned by an employee of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

In December, the city had a plan to team up with La Crosse County to buy the Chamber of Commerce building near downtown to house homeless administrative offices there and build bridge housing on the property. After news got out about the plan, a private buyer bought the building for $2.1 million in cash.

The city says Monday’s meeting agendas include a resolution saying that the property must “be in a condition acceptable to the City,” and “an inspection has occurred and significant issues were identified with regard to said property.”

The resolution says that the city “invokes its inspection contingency and no longer wishes to purchase the property.” The city council voted on Feb. 22 to spend up to $1.5 million to acquire and upgrade the motel.

During Thursday night’s council meeting, several council members said the city needs more specific plans to provide housing for unsheltered people, beyond extending a lease at the Econo Lodge hotel until the end of April and allowing homeless people to camp at Houska Park during the warm weather months 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.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Kent Porter

    March 12, 2022 at 5:27 am

    The Harry J Olson Senoir center on Onalaska Ave is closing down , It would be a great chance for the homeless to grab some hammers , nails , and what ever they need to make it a homeless center , they could get some mental health help and Kwik Trip is right across the railroad tracks , the hire all the time, Mayor Mitch said on the WIZM talk radio last week . said it is disrepair , well so is maple grove , the homeless can fix it up since they will be staying there rent free ,I have been in the Harry J Olson center and it is suitable for a homeless center , it even has a kitchen so they can cook their own food , I don’t think Mayor Mitch has ever been in the Center , Let’s use some common sense , $ 1,000,000 for them to stay in a motel is nuts , Thanks , Kent Porter , Mayor of the North side

    • Ron

      March 13, 2022 at 11:12 am

      How about a one way ticket south where they came from. Train ticket preferable. The gandy dancers will be right at home..,

  2. Jerry

    March 12, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Mayor Mitch asserts NIMBY is not an appropriate response to housing the homeless. I suggest the vast city hall foyer be opened up to the homeless. It could accommodate around half of this group while demonstrating the mayor means what he says.

  3. Gator McClusky

    March 26, 2022 at 7:30 am

    I would like to see the cities written offer to purchase the hotel. im betting they are fkd unless maple grove cant come up with the money to do repairs. But maple grove could take out some sort of equity loan and pay back at point of sale. or maybe just let the city buy their way out of the contract. either way i think the way the city handled it is typical behavior for them. they made the deal before they announced it and had any public input, then when they got around to public input they faced a lot of people unhappy with the deal they already made now the city is fkd .glad i dont live in lacrosse. how do you like your property taxes? almost twice what they are in Onalaska.

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