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New La Crosse history museum could be in business as soon as 2029

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FILE - Former Mayor Tim Kabat announces plans for a history museum task force in 2017, in front of an old fire engine at City Hall.

La Crosse County could have its own history museum within seven years, under the plans being developed by the historical society.

The president of the La Crosse County Historical Society’s board of directors, Greg Clark, presented a business plan Thursday for the facility to the La Crosse Redevelopment Authority.

“We’re figuring the fund-raising campaign would be approximately three years,” Clark said, “and then you have a year for specification writing, getting your architects, and exhibit design folks all together, and then you have two years construction.” Clark says a museum could open by 2029, assuming that the project doesn’t begin until next year.

The River Point district off Copeland Avenue is considered the most likely location for a 49,000-square-foot museum to feature local history and science.

The proposed development cost is $29 million.

The museum project was announced by former La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat in late 2017. A task force spent about three years researching the idea.

Clark said a museum combining local history and science would help La Crosse improve its standing as the largest city in the Driftless Region, which he says compares in size to the state of West Virginia.

“I like to think of us as the capital of the Driftless State,” Clark said. “La Crosse has the largest metro area population in the Driftless, bigger than Dubuque.”

Clark tells the Redevelopment Authority that a $29 million museum could help La Crosse better compete with Dubuque, the Dells, and Winona for tourism.

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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