The former Hillmoor Golf Course has been a vacant, overgrown mess at the city’s main entrance for too many years.
It’s unlikely a golf course will ever be financially viable again at the location. There are too many great courses within a short drive of the site. A city-owned park is cost prohibitive.
The land needs to be redeveloped and city officials must ensure important concerns are addressed, such as traffic congestion, storm-water management and the project’s density.
However, some form of development must happen.
The city council should approve the map change request by Whiteriver Holdings LLC, which will move the property from being zoned private recreational use to a mix of commercial and residential uses.
This will open the door, as many critics of the project fear, to developing the unsightly property.
The Hillmoor site has been vacant for a decade. There’s been plenty of time for an entrepreneur to invest into returning the property to a golf course. The reason it hasn’t happened is because it isn’t financially viable.
Municipal money shouldn’t be invested in turning the site into a park either. It is time for the former Hillmoor site to become something else.
For that to happen the zoning of the property must change. The zoning change doesn’t mean the city won’t have a chance to have input into the development moving forward.
The developer will need precise implementation plans, conditional use permits and other items approved by city leaders. That will provide additional opportunities to scrutinize plans.
Traffic clearly bottlenecks along State Highway 50 during the summer weekends. This year, a designated turn lane was placed near residential areas along Highway 50. Perhaps, that is something the city should consider near the old Hillmoor site to alleviate traffic concerns.
There’s also been concern about additional storm-water runoff entering the White River. City leaders and engineers must carefully review storm-water management plans to ensure that doesn’t occur.
What shouldn’t happen is nothing. We shouldn’t continue to leave the large site at our city’s entrance in limbo.
The map change is only the beginning of that process.
The Lake Geneva Regional News editorial board consists of General Manager Robert Ireland, Editor Scott Williams, Office Manager Sue Hinske and Resorter Editor and Special Projects Coordinator Jessica Franzene-Miller.