Community participation in La Crosse outperformed similar size cities
The City of La Crosse Input Campaign is Closing Out the Initial Phase
The City of La Crosse’s Forward La Crosse Public Input Campaign is closing out the initial phase of its Campaign. City planners and consultants have been soliciting community feedback via its Forward La Crosse Campaign since April 2022.
The information collected on housing, transportation, economic development, intergovernmental cooperation, land use, utilities, community facilities, agricultural, natural and cultural resources, and plan implementation will help develop themes and goals, allowing for even more conversations through the public engagement process throughout 2023.
Some major overall themes that are emerging:
- The highest rated Guiding Principle is “Livable Built Environment: Ensure that all elements of the built environment work together to provide a sustainable place to live, work, and play with a high quality of life”.
- Community Assets: Some of the top reasons respondents choose to live in La Crosse include the City’s natural beauty, proximity to friends and family, and recreational opportunities.
- Environmental/Natural Resources: Respondents strongly feel that the natural features, bluffs, and Mississippi River improve the quality of life in La Crosse. These rank among the top priorities to protect in the City, along with scenic views, undeveloped hills and bluffs, and historic buildings. Citywide climate action, conservation of open space and biodiversity, and surface/groundwater protection were also highly ranked.
- Recreation: Respondents highly ranked walking, biking, and skiing trails/scenic trails, parks, picnic areas, and playgrounds, and boating, canoeing, and river access as their top recreational priorities to emphasize in the Plan.
- Housing: Respondents strongly feel there is a need for the Plan to focus on additional housing opportunities in the City, especially affordable housing and starter homes.
- Economic Development: Respondents indicate the following should be prioritized in the Plan regarding economic development: encouraging the economic impacts of historic preservation through reuse and rehab of historic properties and providing a mix of job opportunities in different industries.
- Downtown La Crosse: Respondents hope the Plan can include more opportunities for greenery and natural elements in the Downtown, along with more pedestrian/bike-friendly infrastructure.
- Transportation: Respondents hope the following priorities can be included in the Plan regarding transportation: making biking and walking safer and more pleasant, improved coordination for bus service stops/frequency, and coordination/access to the airport and nearby cities.
Overall community engagement response rate (of all surveys, comment map, etc.): 6.3% (of the City’s roughly 53,000 people)
Comparison graphic to other comprehensive plan community engagement surveys (see graph below)
“We’re very pleased with the participation so far. We’re looking forward to getting even more responses and going deeper into topics that matter the most to community members.” – Lewis Kuhlman, Environmental Planner, City of La Crosse
As reflected by the community engagement response rate, community members have been active in the surveys available at https://forwardlacrosse.org and the La Crosse Public Library on Main St.
Additionally, the City of La Crosse hosted a variety of in-person opportunities at monthly neighborhood associations meetings throughout La Crosse.
In July 2022, the City of La Crosse Planning and Development Department hosted focus group meetings over two days, feedback was collected from business owners, community organizations, and residents and was facilitated by Milwaukee, WI based company GRAEF.
Interested parties wishing to give feedback should visit forwardlacrosse.org as soon as possible to access interactive features designed to make providing feedback simple, easy, and fun. New public input sessions will be scheduled in 2023.
Tim Acklin, AICP
City of La Crosse Planning and Development
400 La Crosse St. La Crosse, WI 54601