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Voters deny lakefront referendum



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September 15, 2010 | 08:55 AM
Fontana — Village residents overwhelmingly voted against a $2.8 million referendum to make improvements to the lakefront.

More than 70 percent of the people who cast ballots in Tuesday's referendum election were against it. Of the 505 people who voted, only 135 supported it.

"The voters have spoken," Village President Arvid "Pete" Petersen said. "It is pretty much the end of the issue."

Petersen wasn't at all surprised by the outcome.

"The general tone of the voting population is to turn anything down that costs money," he said.

Trustee Cynthia Wilson said she was disappointed by the results.

"I was looking forward to having a lakefront gathering place for our year-round residents especially during the most dismal of our winter months," Wilson said. "I envisioned the activity room being used for things like yoga, small concerts and birthday parties and after school activities."

However, Wilson wasn't surprised.

"Given the news about the possible decrease in our tax increment revenue, the economic climate in general, I can understand why voters were hesitant to take on a new project," Wilson said. "However, it seems to me that the more amenities our village has to offer, the more desirable Fontana will be to families who will enroll their children in our school and invest in our town."

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Last week, CDA Chairman Bill Turner told the Village Board the Department of Revenue decreased the equalized value of the Tax Increment District.

This means the CDA has about $5 to $6 million less to spend on future capital improvements.

See page B3 for a releated story.

If the referendum was approved, the village would have been authorized to spend up to $2.8 million to reconstruct Lake Street and the adjacent parking lot.

The village owns property located at 454 Lake St., is which currently leased to Kevin Kirkland, who operates the Lake Geneva Marine Company.

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The building would have to be torn down, but a lakefront activity center would have been built in its place.

Village officials said repairs to Lake Street need to be made regardless of the outcome of referendum.

A pipe that runs underneath the road is too small.

There is a fear that it could freeze during the winter and cause severe damage to the asphalt.

Petersen said now the village needs to pay for Lake Street repairs with money from its general fund, rather than using tax increment dollars.

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