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.