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Residents give input on Powell-Hood-Hamilton revitalization

Published On: Jan 25 2013 06:06:16 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 25 2013 06:51:41 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -- -

Residents of  the Powell-Hood-Hamilton neighborhood want to have a role in revitalizing the community.

They made their opinions and ideas heard at a meeting hosted by the city and Gundersen Lutheran.

Last night, consultants shared their plan for the neighborhood and opened the floor for residents to give their input.

Based on the response, there's not doubt the residents are passionate about the future.

"Change is a painful thing to most people," said Powell-Hood-Hamilton landlord Pat Lawrynk.

It's also the key to improvement.

"I'd like to see it do well, ergo everybody does well, you know,"said Lawrynk.

Lawrynk owns a building in the Powell-Hood-Hamilton neighborhood.

"It's a neat neighborhood. It really is. It's got history. It's got more potential. Are there problems? Probably," said Lawrynk.

He came out to Thursday night's meeting to pitch in his ideas for how to bring positive change to the neighborhood, and he wasn't alone.

"I'd like to see more retail options in the neighborhood. There's nowhere to get groceries," said Hannah Burcham, a Powell-Hood-Hamilton resident of 12 years.

"I work all over the country. In fact, I work all over the world, and these two meetings in La Crosse have been more well-attended than any meetings I've been to in years," said David Green with Perkins and Will.

Perkins and Will was hired by Gundersen Lutheran and the city and spent time sharing plans for how to revitalize the neighborhood.

"The three things that have to happen is the reinforcement of an expanded framework so there's a higher level of connectivity between the neighborhood, the medical district, the slough, the potential future park on Isle La Plume and up into the broader cities so it connects to the West and to the North to create a more vibrant district within a larger urban area," said Green.

"We discussed a lot about streets, green areas, parks, walkways, interconnecting this that and the other thing down the line," said Lawrynk.

But no matter what improvements are decided on, one thing won't change.

"The people that have been here for so long have to remain. They are the heart of the neighborhood and we have to provide policies and strategies that allow those people to remain without causing economic hardship," said Green.

"I think the people are very proud of their neighborhood and unfortunately there has been a stigma to the neighborhood that is undeserved, but they're proud of their neighborhood and they want to see it grow," said Michael Richards, executive director of Gundersen Lutheran's External Affairs Department.

The consultants are taking what they heard in the meeting on Thursday to help draw up preliminary plans they will present to the community on Saturday.

The next public information meeting will at 10 a.m Saturday.

It will be held at the Southside Neighborhood Center.