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Enhancing Flatiron Park

WHAT TO DO WITH CHAMBER BUILDING? That was one of the main questions posed Monday night during the revealing of the Flatiron Park design plan. But for now there appears to be no answer. "The chamber building has pretty much been ignored in this plan," Alderman Todd Krause said. Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director George Hennerley said he hasn't been involved in any of the discussions regarding the reworking of Flatiron Park. "I know a lot of meetings have taken place on this (plan)," Hennerley said. "But, I have not been consulted on any part of this plan." Hennerley said the chamber is in need of a larger building. He said the chamber has some money set aside for future building or renovations. Hennerley said the chamber needs about 40 percent more space than what it has now. "Nobody knew what was going to happen with the facility," Public Works Director and Beautification Committee member Dan Winkler said. "I don't think whatever is done will affect the stage or the open area in the park." Not everyone had that same belief. "I like the overall concept," Krause said. "But the chamber building has been ignored. Where do we go with that building?" Members of the council didn't understand why the chamber building wasn't taken into account when the plans were made. "It doesn't make sense to have a plan and not decide on the future of the chamber," Krause said. Council members agreed unofficially that more thought must go into the future of the chamber and whether it will remain in that location.
August 04, 2010 | 09:13 AM
By next summer, Flatiron Park could look much different than it does today.

There could be an open space in the middle with an elevated stage for performances and bands, a new pavilion for weddings, a water feature and walkways.

For nearly two years, the Committee for the Beautification of Lake Geneva has been focused on a design plan to improve Flatiron Park. Drawings and maps were presented Monday night to the City Council in an effort to discuss options for the park's renovation.

Public Works Director and Beautification Committee member Dan Winkler said the ideas were being brought forward now to the council so work on the park could occur during the reconstruction of the Wrigley Drive bridge. That work is expected to start in October and be completed by Memorial Day weekend.

"If you are planning on these improvements, it would be a good opportunity to build the parts you want," Winkler said. "The Wrigley Drive bridge work will greatly reduce the number of people in the park and you could get this work done. It's a great time to do it."

But, the focus of the council discussion during the Committee of the Whole meeting clearly was on the elements of the park rather than the timing of the work.

Beautification Committee member Grace Eckland presented the plan, which she said has been discussed by the Park Board, public, City Council members and local stakeholders.

The key features of the design plan include walkways in the park that all lead to the "ceremony" open space in the middle of the park. Next to that will be the elevated stage and on the other side the ceremony gazebo. A splash water feature is on the drawing along with more plantings around the Three Graces Fountain and a sidewalk on the east side of the park along Center Street. The other additions include the pedestrian pathways leading to walkways across Wrigley Drive and include speed humps to slow down traffic.

One aspect Eckland said will remain the same in the park is the view of the lake.

"We wanted to make sure the view remained undisturbed," Eckland said. "Riviera Park draws people and is an exceptional area for us and that is the same thing we want to do for Flatiron Park."

But, many other pieces were up for discussion and comment from city officials, including the fact that the Chamber of Commerce building was left as is.

"I like the overall look and the emphasis on the pedestrian traffic," Alderman Tom Hartz said. "I also like the stage area for events and the ceremony space."

Alderman Bill Mott said he liked the entire plan, but that the chamber building must be a part of the concept.

Alderwoman Mary Jo Fesenmaier said she liked the stage and gazebo, but not the water feature.

Two aspects of the plan did not sit well with a majority of the council members. Those were the roundabouts at the intersections of Wrigley and Broad and Wrigley and Center streets and a porous road on the north side of the park next to the existing Chamber building. Eckland said the porous road could be used when Wrigley Drive is closed to traffic. During the other times of the year, it would be a walking path.

One piece that received mixed reviews were speed humps for the pedestrian crosswalks. Alderwoman Arleen Krohn questioned the effect on the city's plowing equipment.

Eckland and Winkler said the humps are not like typical speed bumps. They are more like small ramps up and then down. Winkler said a driver can feel it when proceeding over them at more than 25 mph, but not much if driving slower. He said the main use for them is to visually alert drivers that pedestrians are crossing. Sometimes the humps include colored or stamped pavement.

According to Eckland, the speed humps are used in Madison and "have proven to be friendly for snow plowing."

Although Krohn said she did not like the idea of the speed humps, Hartz said he would like to see something like that incorporated throughout the city, specifically the downtown areas to improve pedestrian safety.

After the discussion, Winkler said the Beautification Committee will pursue designs for the stage, walkways, gazebo and possibly the speed humps.

"We will look at the components they were in favor of," Winkler said of the council.

After that, projects approved by the council could be bid out with construction occurring in late fall or early spring.

Tax Incremental Financing District No. 4 funds will pay for the work in the park. The Beautification Committee provided no figures as to the total cost of the project.

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