Controversy over new Coulee Council on Addictions facility locat - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Controversy over new Coulee Council on Addictions facility location continues

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Controversy continues to brew over plans for a 6-lot space in the Washburn neighborhood.

The 900 block of Ferry Street is the planned location for Coulee Council on Addiction's new facility. In Monday night's Judiciary and Administration meeting, board members characterized their need for a new building as one with a sense of urgency, even saying that the current building is being held together, "by a band-aid". 

However, for that development to happen certain lots need to be rezoned as public and semi public. That rezoning plan has drawn opposition from the surrounding neighborhood.

"This is a residential lot right here and we wanted it to continue to be residential," said Washburn resident Phillip Johnson.

Neighbors speaking in opposition are not against the center moving in, but are concerned about losing residential lots that they want to see developed into Promise homes. Also, initial plans would effectively remove the Enactus Boys and Girls Club Garden, and the vermicomposting center. 

"With the people from those organizations, we've seen a huge change in this neighborhood and we don't want those to go away," said resident Cassandra Woodward.

Others brought up complaints that neighbors were not included on planning until the very last minute, however a confidentiality agreement between Mayo Clinic and the Coulee Council may have played a role in that delay.

"We hope that the city council then looks at this and says wait a minute, maybe we should put this on hold, look at it, and make everybody happy," Johnson said.

At the J & A meeting, council member Jessica Olson from District 8 was the deciding vote, making it 4-2 to move forward with the project.

"My biggest concern was to refer it would put a feeling of being in limbo or uncertainty," said Olson. "Rather than cause uncertainty and doubt and fears to continue to fester, it was better to say let's move forward, let's get together, let's make this work for everybody."

Since that meeting, members from coulee council board have pledged to work with the neighbors, to try to come up with a design that would address their concerns.

"As soon as people can sit down, and have good honest discussions... honest discussions with open minds, I think we can get there," said Dan Radtke, Board President for Coulee Council on Addictions.

Olson says that the 49 year track record with Coulee Council makes her confident that a compromise can be reached, but what lies ahead is a lot of discussion.

The development project would not affect the gardens on the north side of the 900 block lots on Ferry Street. The rezoning ordinance goes before the full council meeting Thursday, August 10.

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