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Families living near creek in La Crosse to get more time to find new housing



The city of La Crosse and some families living near Pammel Creek will have a little more time to work out a property dispute.

Members of the city council have approved a one-year lease extension for six families at the Rivercrest mobile home park, on land owned by the city.

At Thursday’s meeting, council member Doug Happel spoke in favor of the lease extension.

“It makes no sense whatsoever for the city, or for the landlords, to be talking about evicting people, when we’re dealing with the homeless situation in the community, ” Happel said, adding that forcing the families to move would make them homeless as well. “That makes no sense.”

The current lease at Rivercrest Village was about to expire at the end of June. During the council meeting, city attorney Stephen Matty was asked to explain the options for council members.

“If you decide to not adopt the resolution, ” Matty said, “then what will happen is the lease will end, at the end of June, and then at that point, I will be asking people to leave, and if they don’t leave, I’ll be starting eviction proceedings.”

“If you decide you don’t want that to happen, then you can adopt this resolution,” Matty added, which would clear the way for a one-year lease. The council adopted the measure unanimously.

City officials have been concerned about families choosing to live in a buffer zone within 100 feet of the Pammel Creek canal, which can be prone to flooding.

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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  1. LG

    June 14, 2024 at 9:26 am

    So, city Council, those lots were those six families currently live were built Long ago and had been just fine. Pamela Creek is supposed to stop flooding. Isn’t it the homeowners responsibility to manage their own risk. And they’ve been willing to live there for a long time. To “Doug Happel….

    It makes no sense whatsoever for the city, or for the landlords, to be talking about evicting people, when we’re dealing with the homeless situation in the community, ” Happel said, adding that forcing the families to move would make them homeless as well. “That makes no sense.”

    If it makes no sense to make these six families homeless now, why does it make sense to make them homeless a year from now? And by the way, banning the circus from lacrosse just deprives residence of the opportunity to see the circus and reduces revenue at La Crosse center. The circus is simply going to go to other communities. I’m sure you’re intentions are the safety of the animals. They will just perform elsewhere. Nice job. Sarcasm intended.

  2. Britt Bedford

    June 17, 2024 at 10:40 pm

    The lease between Rivercrest Village and the City has been extended for one year. One year will come and go fast. So what will happen in the meantime and how can we resolve the issue for good for these homeowners located on the leased parcel? Does anybody agree that Nicolai Apartments/Rivercrest Village owners need to do more?? I’ve seen these wonderful owners claim to be such great diplomats for the community. They ”give” so much in donations (aka tax write-offs; advertising incentives, etc.). To this community. But what did they really do to try stopping this eviction? They don’t care about us and what happens with these six homes because there are things they could do to eliminate this fear of potentially losing your home. Being the good people they are that give to the community, I’m really surprised they didn’t offer what I’m about to suggest in the beginning of this whole dispute…

    It is time to make Rivercrest Village/Nicolai Apartments responsible for a mess they have ultimately created. They have padded their pockets with increased rent—increasing every year significantly. Are the amenities getting better or are our requests being attended to in a timely manner? I think we can all agree that the answer is NO!

    * How many lots are still vacant in the park? According to the map on their website, there were 9 vacant lots. One more has been created since the stars were put on that map at 5313 Sandpiper Ln. So ten. But there have been brand new homes moved in. 4 on sandpiper. I think possible one or 2 more down on the other side. Leaving 4 vacant lots, possibly 5.

    Well, we have six homes that need to be moved. We have a very nice park here. One of the amenities we cherish. However, I think this situation calls to possibly utilize some of that space for 1 or 2 of these homes. I’m sure some people will be upset that I’ve suggested this but how would you feel if you were an owner of one of these homes. We have to use the space that we have and sacrificing some land within the park to save our neighbors seems like a cost we can selflessly pay.

    Could the park move their loyal resident homeowners homes to these vacant lots at no cost to the homeowner? I mean, it is Rivercrest Village/Nicolai Apartments whom has placed/approved homes to be on land that was never actually owned by them. Shouldn’t they be made accountable for their actions?

    Were homeowners made aware they were purchasing a home on property not owned by Rivercrest Village and that these homes were on property leased to Rivercrest owners? Were you made aware there may be a time in the future where you could be evicted from your home because of this? And if this eviction were to come to fruition, there wud be no recourse? Were you made aware that your purchase was “at will” and you would assume the risk of loss? Or did you sign the exact same lease as every other home owner in the park?? I know for a fact there was no differentiation in leasing these lots and approving the sales of these homes.

    It’s time to focus your attention on the people who have created this situation and stop pointing the finger at the City of La Crosse. The City is simply trying to take back what is rightfully theirs and they are pushing hard now. They are sending a message that something needs to happen and that they are just the owners of the land—not the BAD guys. Steve Nicolai evicts residents of his rental properties every year. He has no qualms about making people homeless as long as it doesn’t affect his bottom line. Well, this time he needs to be held accountable. Steve Nicolai and Jay Hoeschler need to fix the issue they knowingly created.

    It’s almost an oxymoron when you think about it—2 successful businessmen in the community known for creating fruitful housing, treating “their residents with VIP status” in the community but yet, haven’t stepped in to fully cure this housing issue leading to the potential homelessness of their good, PAYING residents!!!

    You have one year to rally against these owners and make them accountable for what they have created. The countdown is now!!

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