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What to do with Flatiron Park?



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October 06, 2010 | 08:59 AM
It appears as though less is more when it comes to the future enhancement of Lake Geneva's Flatiron Park.

Two months after first presenting its Flatiron Park renovation plan, the Beautification Committee was back in front of members of the City Council Monday night to discuss the updated enhancement proposal, which includes a ceremony space, water feature, a new gazebo, sidewalks through the park and an elevated stage.

But, aldermen said what they have heard from constituents is much different than the Beautification Committee's plan.

"I have received numerous comments saying leave our parks alone and leave the lakefront alone," Alderwoman Arleen Krohn said.

"They really just want us to leave it as is," Alderwoman Ellyn Kehoe said of the park.

Alderman Todd Krause said that was the feedback he received from his constituents.

"In light of a number of phone calls, the general theme was, leave well enough alone."

More specifically, aldermen provided several details about what aspects of the plan constituents said should be removed.

After the last Committee of the Whole meeting in August, the Beautification Committee removed the temporary road on the north side of the park. They also did not include a roundabout at the intersection of Wrigley Drive and Broad Street. Aldermen suggested removal of those items.

But Monday night, aldermen disagreed with other items still included in the plan, such as the splash feature, speed humps, the roundabout on the south side near the boat launch and the elevated stage.

It appeared the only consensus feature for the enhanced park was the sidewalk on the east side along Center Street. The other sidewalks that weave through the park to crosswalks across Wrigley Drive and Center Street received mixed reviews.

Aldermen agreed their main concerns revolved around keeping green space and future costs to maintain the sidewalks, splash feature and the irrigation system.

"The general consensus is that people are pleased with the park the way it is," Alderman Frank Marsala said.

Beautification Committee President Grace Eckland presented the new plan and provided more clear maps. She said the committee was appearing again to find out the city officials' opinions about the project.

"It is pretty well accepted that when you beautify something, you raise the level and the number of visitors," Eckland said.

She said the Beautification Committee worked with the city's planning, Vandewalle and Associates to create the plan.

"We brought in Vandewalle because they are familiar with our objectives and the Lake Geneva feel," she said. "We feel strongly about our lakefront and not obstructing the view, while keeping the green space."

Eckland said the enhancements are for everyone.

"This is not for tourists, it is for the locals," Eckland said. "This is our front room and we need to dress it up."

But, some aldermen had trouble with the features, especially the possible roundabout and the children's splash water feature. Aldermen also weren't too high on the elevated stage idea.

Krause, who formerly was a band director at Big Foot High School and has traveled around the world, said often times the stages weren't used because they weren't large enough.

He said it would be difficult to get a band on the size of the stage that is included in the plan.

"My concern is, most people said the stage is overkill unless it is extremely functional," Krause said. "It is a beautiful thing, but really because of the dimensions, I don't see it as overly functional."

Eckland suggested an option that would make it a raised stage for visibility with a larger slab. She said the pillars could be installed behind the area that could include a smaller platform.

Aldermen were definitely not in favor of the speed humps or the roundabout. There also were questions about the location of a new gazebo, which would be relocated close to the middle of the park near the grassy ceremonial space in the middle of the park.

But, aldermen weren't the only people who voiced concerns about the park. Lake Geneva Middle School band director and city resident Ray Ames said the city should protect as much green space as possible. He also had questions about the size of the stage.

"A stage to accommodate some of the entertainment down there would have to be significantly larger than the pad," he said. "With a stage, I think the most common use of it would be an unofficial skateboard park."

Eckland said the Beautification Committee worked with the Lake Geneva Jaycees and even walked the area during Venetian to ensure that it wouldn't be affected greatly by the enhancement of the park. She also said consideration has been given to the city staff and the public in general to ensure the public embraces the park.

"You want to be proud of it and you want it to be nice," Eckland said. "That is how we feel. This is our front door. Our parlor room. You want to be proud of it and you want it to be nice. But we also want not only our own community to use it, but we want visitors to use it too."

With everything included in the current Beautification Committee plan, Dan Winkler said the cost would be about $500,000. However, he said every item has a price, which means pulling some of those items out of the plan will reduce that cost.

The plan will be funded through already collected Tax Incremental Financing funds.

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