Repurpose Fire Station No. 4

Repurpose Fire Station No. 4

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Preservation Alliance of La Crosse, Inc. started this petition to La Crosse Common Council

We, the residents of La Crosse, demand the Common Council order the La Crosse Fire Department change their plans to demolish historic Fire Station No. 4, located at 906 Gillette Street. The building is a cultural and economic asset that belongs to the taxpayers. We support the Fire Department’s request for modern facilities and additional space. However, we don’t have to destroy our past to build our future.

With the amount of land already purchased for expansion, a new fire station could be built next to the historic one. Concept art depicting a modern, 21st Century fire station next to historic Fire Station No. 4 was presented to Fire Chief Gilliam, members of the Common Council and the public. A similar design would require the architects to draw new plans, the cost of which would be off-set by avoiding the costs of demolition. The project is still in the drawing phase, so changing plans now would have minimal impact on the overall project. With minor investment by the city, historic Fire Station No. 4 could become a Community/Senior Center, saving the city money as they already own the building. It has a lounge, a kitchen, and engine bay that could be used for large gatherings. With multiple ground level entrance points, it could easily be modified to meet ADA compliance. 

Alternatively, rather than spending money to demolish the building, the city could sell the building for redevelopment, making money from the sale, as well as making money indefinitely from the property taxes the building would generate. If sold, the building could be turned into housing, a restaurant, a firefighter museum, an event venue, almost anything. Most importantly, we'd be grateful to see an important civic building preserved. It's a unique part of La Crosse and firefighting history. This 1940 Tudor-Style fire station has economic and historic value, and is so significant it's potentially eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When Gundersen Lutheran Hospital needed to modernize and expand, they built new facilities next to the original 1923 structure on South Avenue, they didn’t destroy it. History has proven beyond doubt that buildings much older than Fire Station No. 4 can be successfully repurposed. We do not want our tax dollars used to destroy another historic building that will sit in a landfill for eternity.

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