Dash-Park aims to be a catalyst for change in Onalaska - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Dash-Park aims to be a catalyst for change in Onalaska

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Onalaska, WI (WXOW) - -

Two years ago the corner of Second Ave. and Main Street in Onalaska was full of houses and closed down businesses, now it features green space and concert venues. It's part of the city's new Dash-Park located downtown.

The idea started from a poem written by Linda Ellis called, "The Dash." Focusing on living life to it's fullest through compassion and kindness, the poem inspired Dave and Barb Skogen to help the people of Onalaska live their dash.

Dave and Barb Skogen could have given the park their family name, but they wanted to send a message, "The Dash Poem is about legacy, and we wanted to leave a legacy to the City of Onalaska, the Skogen family has lived here their entire life," Philanthropist Barb Skogen describes.

Life-long Onalaska residents, the area surrounding Dash-Park is engrained in Skogen family history.

"We lived just a block south of here, and our grandparents lived in this very block, so ya know, it's always been part of the neighborhood," Philanthropist Dave Skogen elaborates.

Dave saw potential in the area he knew as a child, but the city struggled to revitalize the block.

"I was at the point where I thought we would never have this nice of a look on this side of the street," City of Onalaska Mayor Joe Chilsen continues, "We were thinking one building at a time, Dave came in and took them all at once," Mayor Chilsen finishes.

The Skogens bought multiple properties to make the project a reality for future generations of Onalaska residents.

"It kind of says progress, a progressive community look what they're doing ya know, and other things are going to happen in this area," Dave Skogen discloses.

Dash-Park may be complete, but the development of downtown Onalaska is just beginning.

"It moves in all directions and it can be a catalyst for a variety of buildings depending on which direction you go," Mayor Chilsen concludes.

City officials plan on adding to the park to further the community resource. Dave and Barb say all people need is some free time though.

"Just come here and get fresh air and meet some new people and get away from all the electronics that drive us nuts most of the day," Dave Skogen says, "Sunshine is a source of happiness," Barb Skogen finishes.

The Skogen's felt the park needed more than just green space and concert venues in the beginning. The family opened up David Reay's next to the park to further encourage people to take a moment and appreciate their dash.

The park will host a concert series throughout the summer every Tuesday night from 6 to 8 starting Tuesday, June 12.

MORE: Full Version of "The Dash"

Planning Stages of Dash-Park

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