Lake Geneva residents present ideas for city's future

Lake Geneva residents present ideas for city's future

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Whether it is more green space, controlled growth, more business diversity or fewer vacation rental homes, Lake Geneva residents have offered several ideas for what they would like to see in the city’s future.

Residents have presented ideas during the past few weeks on what they would like to see occur in Lake Geneva, as city officials have begun the process of updating the community’s 10-year comprehensive plan.

The comprehensive plan serves as a guideline for future development, land preservation and city services.

Representatives from the consulting firm of Vandewalle & Associates in Madison are assisting the city with updating the comprehensive plan.

City resident Peg Esposito said she would like the city to maintain its green space and environmental areas. She said green space is what makes Lake Geneva an attractive community.

“When I come here from some other place, you can just breathe here,” Esposito said. “There’s green space; there’s nature.”

John Dicmas, another resident, said he would like the city to maintain the quality of Geneva Lake, and to continue to promote it as a tourist attraction.

“Someone told me the lake is an asset here, and I said, ‘No, the lake is the asset,’” he said.

Dicmas said he also would like the city to establish more affordable housing for younger families.

“I think the neighborhoods kind of need some refreshing,” he said.

Esposito and Dicmas were among about 25 people who attended a comprehensive plan workshop meeting July 31 at Badger High School. A similar meeting was held July 30.

During the meetings, residents and city officials met in small groups to discuss what they like about Lake Geneva and what they would like to see improved, then shared their ideas with the group.

Several residents said they want to see the privately owned former Hillmoor Golf Course remain undeveloped. Dicmas, however, said the former golf course property could be redeveloped for assisted living facility.

Other residents said they want the city to limit the number of big-box retail stores and to maintain small shops in the downtown area.

“Let’s grow east, north and west of the downtown,” said Dimitri Anagnos, co-owner of Popeye’s on Lake Geneva restaurant. “Don’t change the environment of the city in the downtown area.”

Grace Hanny said she would like the city to limit the number short-term vacation rental properties in residential areas. Several residents voiced similar thoughts on rentals.

“I think that kills a neighborhood,” Hanny said.

Several city officials also shared their ideas for the city’s future.

Alderman Tim Dunn proposed better access to Geneva Lake for both residents and visitors.

“I’ve lived in different areas of the city, and there was always easy access to the lake to go swimming,” Dunn said. “And we’re getting further and further away from that.”

City Administrator Dave Nord said he would like a greater variety of housing developments. Nord said he also would like the city to share equipment with other municipalities.

“If the city needs a piece of equipment for only a couple of years, it would make more sense to share it,” Nord said.

The city will consider the ideas presented during the community meetings as officials draft a comprehensive plan to be reviewed by the plan commission Sept. 16.

The city council is set to approve an updated comprehensive plan in late December.

Mayor Tom Hartz said he was pleased with the number of residents who have attended the meetings to provide input.

“We’re gathering really great data,” Hartz said. “A lot of people are expressing opinions. We’re hearing a lot of fresh ideas.”

Dicmas said he enjoyed attending the meeting and discussing ideas with other residents.

“It’s just wonderful to be a part of the conversation,” he said.

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