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Geneva seems willing to revisit talks with Linn



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October 23, 2012 | 02:30 PM
GENEVA — "We're not isolationists," town chairman Joe Kopecky said on the phone Oct. 17. "We're all neighbors."

That was part of his response to a question that town of Linn officials may formally ask soon: Would leaders of the town of Geneva and the village of Williams Bay meet with them to discuss ways to increase emergency response times in the Highway 50 corridor?

"There are all kinds of variables we'd have to look at, but if Linn wants to talk, we'd hear what they have to say," Kopecky said.

Earlier this year, Linn officials have expressed an interest in finding potential ways to improve response times.

Geneva Lake splits Linn into two regions. Its fire, rescue and police services are stationed in the southern region of the town. Linn contracts services from Williams Bay's fire and rescue departments because it takes Linn emergency personnel longer to respond to calls in the north shore region.

On the other hand, the town of Geneva doesn't have its own fire and rescue department.

Geneva contracts those services from departments in Williams Bay and the cities of Elkhorn and Lake Geneva. So, because of these factors, a fire and rescue service study of the Highway 50 corridor was done in 2009, paid for by Linn, Geneva and Williams Bay.

There were talks of substations and other potential improvements, but in Feburary 2010, Williams Bay left the discussion.

Recently, Linn Town Chairman Jim Weiss announced that the board may send letters to the boards in Williams Bay and Geneva. On the phone Oct. 18, Weiss said the board will discuss it at its regular meeting in November.

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Although this isn't the first time the idea has been delayed, he explained there is "no sense of urgency" because the north shore of Linn is covered.

He also said it ties into the process of creating next year's budget, for which the first workshop began Thursday, Oct. 25.

"We wanted to at least know what numbers we have before we do something like this," Weiss said.

Meanwhile, Kopecky said he's pleased with the current level of fire and rescue service being provided to his town. "We're actually OK with what we have now, but we would do what we can to work with Linn," Kopecky said.

Geneva's coverage

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In 2009, the response time issue was hot in the town of Geneva. People along the south shore of Lake Como and Geneva National expressed concerns at several public meetings. Back then, McGrath Consulting Group, Wonder Lake, Ill., suggested a substation could help improve response times to fire and rescue calls.

In 2010, some Geneva Town Board members pushed to build a substation using land offered by Mercy Walworth Medical Center, near the corner of Highways 50 and 67. That effort failed.

"I think it was sort of, we've got the possibility of this land, how can we use it," Kopecky said Oct. 17 about the previous situation.

He said since then, some changes have improved the situation for Geneva — namely Paratech's coverage of the town and the Lake Geneva Fire Department switching to a paid-on-premises system.

"We don't have any major problems," he said. Kopecky said Paratech is "fairly accessible" and usually stations an ambulance throughout the area, such as near Showboat of Lyons Theater or Como Community Church.

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"They seem to respond to calls fairly quickly," he said.

Kopecky also said Lake Geneva's paid-on-premises program offers an advantage. "Somebody's always there, on-site, to man the equipment."

Then there's a bit of serendipity involving the Lake Como Sanitary District.

The Elkhorn department keeps an engine at the district building, N3420 Dell Place.

"We also have an individual who works at the Lake Como Sanitary District, Shane Hansen," Kopecky said. "He's a member of the Elkhorn Fire Department. He can respond during working hours, with that (engine), to a fire."

Kopecky also said Geneva National is in the designing stages of a maintenance building that, once built, could house firefighting equipment.

Now, Geneva is entering into negotiation season with two of the departments which serve it.

Kopecky said Geneva officials are negotiating another two-year service contract with Lake Geneva. Kopecky said they will negotiate with Williams Bay soon because their annual agreement expires at the end of this year. He said he expects both contracts to be renewed.

As for Elkhorn, according to that fire department's website, the town of Geneva is one of the communities which serves on an advisory board that oversees department operations.

The Elkhorn department covers the towns of Geneva, Lafayette and Sugar Creek as well as the city of Elkhorn.

Relationships

One question Kopecky asked was if Linn is talking about building a substation. He said although he would hear what Linn officials have to say, he's not desperate to change the current relationships the town of Geneva has with Williams Bay, Lake Geneva and Elkhorn.

"I would think there's a major need on (Linn's) end, certainly … but I would like to see what kind of facility they would be talking about," Kopecky said. He added he also would consider returning to the discussion if Lake Geneva was participating.

However, in a Sept. 21 interview, Weiss said they were going to reopen talks by asking Geneva and Williams Bay first, because those communities took part in the 2009 study. "We've got to have a starting point, that's all," Weiss said. "It's not that we wouldn't consider any other municipality."

On Oct. 17, Kopecky said the existing relationships between Geneva and other communities are "something that we're going to have to respect."

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