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Unwelcome in Flatiron Park?



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November 17, 2010 | 09:07 AM
It will be up to the Lake Geneva City Council whether the Area Chamber of Commerce building will be expanded in Flatiron Park. Already, members of the Plan Commission have agreed they don't like the idea.

On Monday night, planners voted 5-1 not to allow an addition to the building toward the Andy Gump statue along Wrigley Drive. That recommendation will go the council.

Currently, the Chamber of Commerce owns the building, but the land is owned by the city. The chamber rents the property and the current lease runs through 2020, unless an agreement is reached to end the lease. During recent discussions about the future of Flatiron Park, questions arose about the Chamber of Commerce's needs for the future.

Lake Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director George Hennerley reported that an expansion plan was in the works to fulfill the future needs of the chamber.

"My feeling on this is ultimately I would like to see that building gone," Alderman and Plan Commissioner Tom Hartz said of the building. "But, I also understand the rights the Chamber has. My sense is that it is a park and it should be returned to being a park."

However, on Monday, Hennerley said he was confused by the discussion following the last time the issue was in front of the council.

On Oct. 25 during the city's regular meeting, initially the council voted 5-3 to approve the chamber expansion.

Shortly thereafter the issue was reconsidered after discussing changing the shoreland ordinance to allow the expansion.

That's when the council reconsidered the previous decision and voted 7-1 against the chamber expansion and to send it back to the Plan Commission to make a recommendation on the project.

Mayor Jim Connors said that's what the Plan Commission was discussing Monday night. Hartz was adamant about his feelings regarding the future of the chamber building in Flatiron Park.

"My sense is that Flatiron Park and all the discussions we have had, the public would like to have that park remain a park and be as open and flexible as possible," Hartz said. "I think the location of the Chamber of Commerce can easily be accommodated at properties on Broad or Main streets."

Hartz suggested that allowing the chamber to expand at the current location "detracts from the park and is a short-term fix."

But, Commissioner Bryan Poetzinger was in favor of the expansion for the tourists.

"Isn't that what the chamber is for?" he asked.

The chamber building currently includes washrooms, which some aldermen said last month they would like to see remain in the park.

However, Connors said the washrooms are dated and there are other problems with the building location — specifically the difficulty maneuvering the parking lot.

"My opinion is that it is not the best location for walk-in traffic," Connors said of tourists. "There are quite a few opportunities in other places."

Hennerley said he is not against moving.

"I don't disagree that we can't go somewhere else, but the consensus was that it was a good location," he said.

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