LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)—The Powell-Hood-Hamilton area is one of La Crosse's oldest neighborhoods.
The Powell-Hood-Hamilton region of the city faces a number of challenges; among them are poverty, dilapidated housing and a reputation for having a high crime rate.
Revitalizing the Southside neighborhood, which is home to about 2,700 people, is the focus of an ongoing effort.
Consultants are looking into how to blend the neighborhood and the nearby Gundersen Lutheran campus.
Andrew Londre, County Board Supervisor is concerned about the reputation of neighborhood.
"The housing stock is run down, dilapidated," Londre said.
But as a resident of the neighborhood, he also understands it's not the entire area, just a few bad apples.
"I think the block I live on is a terrific block and all the neighbors I have are wonderful people," Londre said.
Rep. Jill Billings said she would like to bring the neighborhood back to the healthy, thriving place it was historically.
"I think we can have a healthy mix if we can do some revitalization," Billings said. "See if local employees would want to live there but we also need to keep affordable housing for people that live in the neighborhood."
One suggestion is to make the area more appealing to Gundersen Lutheran employees so more people will live and work in the same neighborhood.
"It would be wonderful for them to be able to bike or walk to work and for the health of the neighborhood," Billings said.
Other ideas are to add more lighting and cameras to the area.
They're also considering renaming Hood Park to Poage Park, after George Poage, from La Crosse, the first African-American to win an Olympic medal when he earned two at the 1904 Olympics.
Being as close as the neighborhood is to Viterbo University, they'd also like work with landlords to improve the quality of rental housing.
Londre said right now the neighborhood is a smart investment.
"The sticker prices right now are a lot lower," Londre said. "But, if you make your investment early and the neighborhood turns around it's going to be a really smart investment for you."
He said he feels safe in his Victorian home and is happy to be a part of the Powell-Hood-Hamilton Neighborhood.
The consultants will return in January to present their initial designs.
They'll host meetings to get public feedback on Thursday, January 24 from 7-9 p.m. and Saturday, January 26 from 10 a.m to 12 p.m.
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