LA CROSSE, Wisc. (WLAX/WEUX) – Pearl Street Books has been part of La Crosse’s downtown for more than 20 years. Owner Beth Hartung says Pearl Street is the perfect location for the store.

“The foot traffic just tends to be drawn down this street,” said Hartung. “The buildings are beautiful, the shops here are very welcoming, and very interesting for visitors of our community.”

Pearl street is a frequent stop for visitors year-round, which is causing city planners to look at enhancing the downtown experience. On the heels of updates to 2nd Street and the La Crosse Center, the next major downtown project includes building a walkway to connect Pearl to Riverside Park.

“We want to continue that kind of updating for the downtown, and Pearl Street is kind of a logical phase two.”

Community members are also trying to find ways to make Pearl Street safer. An idea to close the street to vehicles was pitched at a recent public input meeting, which some say may create a more peaceful atmosphere.

“I would love to see people be able to come in and grab a book, get a cup of coffee next door, meet a friend, have live music outside.”

As a La Crosse community member, Hartung supports that idea, but sees some problems from the perspective of a business owner.

“I worry about accessibility; I worry about people who can’t walk very far. Or can’t walk at all and rely on a driver to drop them off in front of a store.”

Terry Bauer with Downtown Mainstreet says those concerns are being taken into consideration, adding discussions will continue with business owners and the community at large.

“We’re still looking at how we can manage traffic, manage the delivery vehicles that need that street access for all the businesses that are on that street, so the public input is going to be very important on what finally evolves for the final rendition of what Pearl Street should look like,” said Bauer.

Additional public input sessions will be held next year to flesh out the plan for Pearl Street.