Home City park Parks Superintendent to Request Funds from ARPA for Additional Lead Study in La Crosse River Marsh | Government and politics

Parks Superintendent to Request Funds from ARPA for Additional Lead Study in La Crosse River Marsh | Government and politics


Another study is needed to find a possible solution to lead contamination in the La Crosse River marsh, and the director of the city’s parks, recreation and forestry department hopes to use COVID relief money to finance it.

That’s the update Superintendent Jay Odegaard gave the park’s Board of Commissioners on Thursday, describing that the contamination control process is currently at an “impasse.”

The swamp was contaminated by lead left by the La Crosse Gun Club, which was housed at Myrick Park from 1929 to 1963 and fired at targets above the swamp. A 2015 study found that 50,000 lead pellets per square meter remained embedded in the seabed and left high levels of lead and PAHs, or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons.

Finding solutions has been complicated, however, as any kind of cleanup could do more harm to the swamp.

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“What we’re planning to do is complete another study,” Odegaard said. “What this study will allow us to do is continue negotiations with the (Department of Natural Resources) on how we are going to address certain hot spots related to the marsh.”

The Board of Public Works, which is the engineering group that oversees the marsh (though Parks Department staff manage it), approved the additional survey to be carried out last fall, Odegaard said. But at the time, there was no funding.

Now, city funding through the American Rescue Plan Act could be the answer.

The city recently presented a plan that calls for spending about 60% of ARPA’s remaining $18.5 million on water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, and this new study could potentially fall into that category. .

Odegaard said he wanted to let the park board know about the request partly because of the importance of the swamp, but also to get it on board members’ radar.

“While we saw resolutions regarding ARPA funding before the board last month, there is still a bit of hesitation as to how this source of funding looks,” Odegaard said.

This study would hopefully connect the final dots for the city and state as they have juggled the responsibility of finding a solution for the past few years. Odegaard said the city wanted to choose a solution with DNR support.

Those solutions will themselves be a delicate balance, Odegaard pointed out, and there are quite a few options on the table that range from minimal to “much more substantial” impact on the swamp.

“But the point I want to drive home to the park board tonight is that this next piece of the swamp project is critical in its timing,” Odegaard said. “That we are able to go ahead and complete this study, which will paint the picture of the solution.”

The park board took no action regarding the study and were only informed of the plans. Odegaard said the item would then be brought back to the Public Works Board. The city council has implemented that all expenditures of ARPA dollars will have to be approved by them.