A New Vision for the Park
There are several options for how Copeland Park could be used that came out of planning efforts that began by the City of La Crosse in March of 2022. ISG was challenged to repurpose the park, which was built in 1876 using designs from landscape architect John Nolen (of Madison fame). Over the 140+ years, the park has transitioned from its original large community lawn, extensive planting beds, and tennis courts.
The park plan's new purpose:
- Set a vision to guide long-term development and improvements for the park.
- Ensure the park's features and amenities reflect the needs and wants of the community.
- Help ensure long-term financial and ecological sustainability of the park.
On August 16 a review of the plan emerged.
The prior public input process pinpointed its use as open space, recreational resource, a neighborhood park, and a destination.
- The Park is an important community resource and gathering space that is in need of overall updates and enhancements.
- Logger Field is an unique amenity and regional destination. Any future plans should support its continued use.
- Improve infrastructure and amenities to support large community/regional events in the Park.
- Create pedestrian and programmatic connections to the river front.
- Diversify Park amenities to support all-age, all-ability, and all-season use.
- Improve lighting, Park circulation, and other infrastructure to support user safety and deter unwanted behaviors such as vandalism, bathroom break-ins, and drug use.
- Remove and replace highly used but out-of-date park amenities—including playground and restrooms—to meet current safety and sustainability standards. Remove picnic pavilion.
- Improve trail and pedestrian connections and crossings. Particularly, address trail under Clinton Avenue overpass.
- Remove or redesign parking and vehicle circulation along Copeland Park Drive.
- Plan for ongoing and future flooding concerns along Copeland Park Drive.
To better support the diverse uses of the Park in coming years, primary improvements of the Master Plans should include:
- Creating inviting and clear Park entrances and wayfinding
- Improved site circulation and trail connections, including new sidewalks, connections between site amenities, regional trails, and ADA accessible routes
- A new restroom close to highly used amenities—splash pad and ball fields
- Flexible open-space and gathering areas to support large and small-scale community events
- Expanded play-area for all ages and abilities within the heart of the Park
- Updated infrastructure (flexible seating, restrooms, utilities) to better support events and performances, as well as everyday use • Areas for passive recreation infrastructure (walking paths and benches) and views of nature within the Park
- Removal of unused or out-of-date Park features
- Expanded green-infrastructure and ecological features to support the health of the adjacent river
Additionally, the Park’s unique features—such as the Logger’s Ball Park—are regional draws. The Park could be designed to support larger group gatherings or expansion of event activity.
Various Use Proposals Presented
Consultants, ISG, presented four alternatives. The options include layouts for a "light touch", River Walk, Riverside Pavilion, and Community Fair. There are plans for winter activities and flood mitigation.