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Sides continue to growl about dogs swimming

ALDERWOMAN SARAH HILLand her dog, Maya, pose for a picture by the piers on the west end of Library Park. The controversy over dogs jumping into the lake seems to be coming to an end. Hill was a proponent of allowing dogs to swim in the water, and Maya showed her gratitude by wagging her tail as she swam along the shoreline. See related story, page A5.

August 28, 2012 | 08:07 PM
The barking continues.

Residents and nonresidents continue to hound the city council over the issue of dogs swimming in Library Park.

The disagreement now isn't so much whether the canines can cool their paws in Geneva Lake, but rather from where in the park the pooches can dive in.

The Lake Geneva City Council on Monday referred a proposed swimming area for dogs at the west end of Library Park to the city attorney. The city attorney is to draw up a draft ordinance for council consideration.

The proposed ordinance would create a dog swimming area about 72-feet-long and maybe as many feet wide east of the fishing pier and west of the boat slips. The dog-launching area would occupy what are now the two westernmost dinghy pads.

The recommendation came out of an Aug. 23 joint meeting of the Lake Geneva Piers, Harbors and Lakefront Committee and the Lake Geneva Board of Park Commissioners. (See related story.)

The decision was presented as a compromise.

Dick Malmin, town of Linn, led off with his disapproval, claiming that Mayor Jim Connors "bulldozed" the compromise through the joint committee meeting that resembled a television show called "The Mayor Knows Best."

Malmin urged the council members not to "cave in" to the mayor and to move the dog swimming area further east along the park's lakefront to further separate dogs from boats.

Jim Strauss, also of town of Linn, took the other side. He said the agreement to come out of the joint meeting was a good one and a good compromise.

While there is the risk of an accident at the west end, with dogs swimming near the fishing pier and boat launch, there is a risk factor in everything the city council decides, Strauss said.

The city could build a dog swimming area east of the boat launch, but that would cost money.

"Nobody in my city wants to spend anymore money," Strauss said.

Casey Schiche of Lake Geneva also came out in favor of a swimming area further east, away from the boat launch area.

Schiche said the area selected for the dog swimming area is "too crowded for dogs and human use."

He also said that Alderwoman Sarah Hill, who is an advocate of a dog swimming area, should recuse herself from voting.

Former alderman Bill Huntress also weighed in moving the dog swimming area away from the boat launch. Boat owners and slip renters pay a lot of money to the city for the privilege of having a buoy or slip in Library Park, he said. They should be respected.

Aldermen Don Tolar and Jeff Wall also said they didn't believe the compromise was a good one.

Alderman Gary Hougen said that, while the location might not be perfect, the responses he's been getting from residents is that it's a good compromise.

Alderwoman Ellyn Kehoe also said she thought it was a good start at finding a solution for those who like to have their dogs swim in the lake.

"This is a baby step," she said of the proposed ordinance. "We need to do it."

Connors said the compromise of a dog swimming area at the west end of the park was the compromise on the table.

"Something east of there can be done at a later date," he said.

The compromise proposal was sent to the city attorney on a 6 to 2 vote, with Tolar and Alderwoman Arleen Krohn voting against.


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