Neighborhood Assoc. looks to rename Hood Park - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Neighborhood Assoc. looks to rename Hood Park

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Plans to revitalize the Powell-Hood-Hamilton neighborhood are moving through the city council.

The plan to revamp the south side community is a collaborative effort involving residents, city officials and Gundersen Lutheran.

Among the plans, the Powell-Hood-Hamilton Neighborhood Association is working on a name-change for Hood Park.

"Because of the name ‘Hood,' it gives us a little bit of an idea that it's not a friendly place," said Phil Ostrem, chair of the neighborhood association.

A name, that comes with a stigma.

And Ostrem's eyes, the name change would be for the children.

"We have a lot of transient people here who have been on the fringes most their lives," Ostrem said. "And especially the young kids, we want to give them a chance to see that they don't have to accept their lot."

Ostrem said the name-change is overdue, despite the giant plaque in front of the park reading, "Hood Park."

"Part of the reason the name is changing is because this isn't the official name of the park," Ostrem said. "It was just decided on."

"Yeah, I knew a lot of kids who grew up here years ago; back in late 50s and 60s," said city Councilman Francis Formanek.

He grew up playing in Hood Park, and now helps govern it.

"The name change will really highlight this area as not a blighted area but as a place where people want to live, play and you know basically come to," Formanek said.

The neighborhood association is proposing to name the park after George Poage.

Poage was a La Crosse resident who in 1904 made history by becoming the first black modern Olympic medalist.

"So the kids are gonna hear this in their classrooms," said Ostrem.

"It ties in well with basically the start of our neighborhood revitalization," Formanek added.

And change starts with a name.

Monday the board of public works, the neighborhood revitalization commission, and the plan commission all approved the plans to renovate the Powell-Hood-Hamilton neighborhood.

The proposal will move to the judiciary and admission committee tomorrow.

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