Wrigley Drive pedestrian plaza

Wrigley Drive could be closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into a pedestrian plaza under a consultant’s plan being considered by Lake Geneva city officials. (File photo/Regional News)

Visitors to downtown Lake Geneva this summer apparently will not see a traffic-free pedestrian plaza concept along Wrigley Drive.

City officials have taken no action on the matter, and City Administrator David Nord said he does not anticipate any movement to try the pedestrian plaza concept in 2019.

Nord, however, said he does not believe the idea has been abandoned.

“I think the interest is still out there,” he said. “But since it’s already mid- to late June, I don’t think it’s going to occur.”

Mayor Tom Hartz in March said he wanted to close Wrigley Drive this summer and try the traffic-free plaza concept as an experiment.

Hartz could not be reached for comment.

Tourism consultant Roger Brooks last year proposed closing Wrigley Drive to vehicles and creating a permanent pedestrian plaza that he said would create a better lakefront setting.

Brooks’ proposal indicated that by closing the street, the city could bring new amenities to the Wrigley Drive area, including more outdoor seating, an amphitheater, a summer splash pad and a winter ice-skating rink.

But closing Wrigley Drive also would eliminate dozens of parking spaces, which has created mixed feelings among some restaurants and other businesses.

Dimitri Anagnos, co-owner of Popeye’s on Lake Geneva, 811 Wrigley Drive, opposes the plaza because he thinks it would create an inconvenience for customers without adequate parking.

Anagnos said many customers share his opposition, saying they do not want to have to walk to the lakefront.

“They want convenient parking and outdoor dining,” he said.

Paul Meckler, operations manager for Oakfire restaurant, 831 Wrigley Drive, supports the plaza concept, and said he is disappointed that the city is not moving forward with the idea.

Meckler said the city should continue to consider the concept as a way of introducing new activities to the Wrigley Drive lakefront.

“I think people need to think about what’s best for the entire community, not just the few,” he said. “I think it would be great to have an area where people could get together and have fun.”

Nord said he believes the idea will be reconsidered in the future.

“I honestly think the conversation is still out there about what to do with Wrigley Drive, and how far to close it,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be closed this year.”

The proposal involves the area of Wrigley Drive that runs along Riviera Beach between the library and Broad Street.

Anagnos said the plaza would negatively affect businesses during the fall and winter, because fewer people would be willing to walk to the downtown area in cold weather.

Anagnos said the city also is not considering other issues, such as how delivery trucks and emergency vehicles would reach the lakefront.

Noting his 40 years of experience in the business locally, he said: “I think I know that area better than almost anyone. I think I know a little bit better what goes on down by the lake.”