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Triathlon organizers want village to waive portion of bill


Event might move to Williams Bay



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The Lake Geneva Triathlon is held every year in September in the Fontana and Walworth area. The organizers have approached neighboring communities about hosting the event elsewhere. (click for larger version)
January 12, 2011 | 08:46 AM
Fontana — Whether the Lake Geneva Triathlon stays in the village remains to be seen, but board members aren't waiving $2,000 in charges owed by event organizers.

Last month, triathlon organizers asked the Williams Bay Village Board for permission to host the event there, which would break a more than 20-year tradition of holding it in Fontana.

In a Dec. 7 letter, triathlon organizers asked Fontana to waive a $2,000 parking fee for using the village's municipal lots. However, the letter doesn't state event organizers are shopping for a new location.

The village billed the group $12,000 for expenses related to police and public works employee's salaries. The bill also includes forgone revenues for the village's beach and parking lot.

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Event organizers paid $10,000, but are asking for the remaining $2,000 to be waived.

Prior to the event, Petersen said when he spoke to triathlon organizers it was clear the group couldn't charge people to park in the municipal lots. However, he said, at 4:30 a.m. the day of the event he received a phone call informing him this was occurring.

The annual for-profit event is organized by Pat Schroeder and Frank Dobbs. Their attorney, John Maier, wrote a letter to the board stating it was believed they could collect parking fees.

"Unfortunately, something went wrong with this scenario, because on the morning of the race, my clients' race staff were told that under no circumstances could we collect the parking fee from race participants using the lots," Maier said. "This situation left us responsible for the supervision, without the ability to recoup the cost from race participants. Further, the village did receive the funds that were deposited into the parking meters."

On Tuesday, Fontana Administrator Kelly Hayden said although the event is a major undertaking for the police and public works departments, it provides some benefits to the village.

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She said Gordy's hosts a spaghetti dinner the night before the event and registration is held the Gordy's showroom. She also said Chuck's Lakeshore is adjacent to the park where the event begins and ends.

The board approved a motion seek the remaining $2,000 on a 5-1 vote. Cynthia Wilson was opposed.

Fontana or Williams Bay?

Petersen said he would like the event to stay in Fontana.

"It creates some interest in the community," Petersen said Tuesday morning. "It is an event that has become very popular and it is expected each year."

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In December, the Williams Bay Village Board tabled a request to move the event. Williams Bay Trustee George Vlach, who chairs the board's Protective Services Committee, said he wants to scheduled a committee meeting with Dobbs, the police chief and a representative of the village business association to go over some more questions about the event.

It appears there are two reasons Dobbs and Schroeder are looking to move the event.

Dobbs said Stateline Road, which is part of the bike course, is in terrible shape and he doesn't want to send bicyclist down it.

Dobbs also told the Williams Bay Village Board he wants to move it because of bill the group received from Fontana.

"We were not happy with the fee structure in Fontana," Dobbs said at the Williams Bay Village Board meeting.

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Although Petersen wants to keep the event in Fontana, he said the village shouldn't lose money to host it.

"The board, it appears, is not interested in it being an item that cost us money," Petersen said.

Trustee George Spadoni questioned what effort the village has made to keep the event at its current location.

"Where are we at approaching them about keeping the event in Fontana?" Spadoni asked. "Can we resolve the $2,000 to keep them in Fontana?"

Trustee Patrick Kenny, who has participated and volunteered at the event, said he wants to keep it in the village, but changes need to be made.

"We have to negotiate a better deal for Fontana," Kenny said.

Petersen said safety concerns need to be resolved before next year's event, if it stays in the village.

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