The city of Lake Geneva and its citizens have had a love affair with the Riviera since the iconic structure was built in 1932.
For several months, the City Council has been working on a plan to repair and reinvent the Riviera.
The roof leaks. The bathrooms need to be handicapped accessible, and there are dozens of little fixes that are in need of some loving care.
But this is an opportunity to do something more, something more ambitious, something special, too.
The Riviera has gone through several reinventions over its lifetime from a venue for big bands during the ‘30s to a lively tavern that many current residents remember fondly.
But now it often lies empty, save for weekend weddings and occasional civic events.
It’s discouraging to think that so many citizens have not even been in the Riviera. It’s seen by too many as a structure that’s only to be enjoyed by the few. That’s not how we want it.
So, what can it be?
You’ll play a big part in deciding that. We want your ideas and we want your memories — how you danced with your future wife or husband, for instance — because those memories can also assist us in this re-visioning.
We’ve already hired a construction company with expertise in historic buildings and a top-notch reputation.
Their engineers have already examined the Riviera in detail, and know where repairs need to be made.
But we can’t go much further without deciding what the goal will be — that’s where you come in.
How do you get involved in this process?
There are plenty of opportunities. So far, we’ve had an open house at the Riviera, which drew a couple of dozen people.
More recently, we’ve started a campaign called “Looking for Love Again” with the hashtag #RivieraReLOVEution.
If you aren’t of the hashtag generation, you can call the mayor and offer suggestions the old-fashioned way, person to person. You can call him at (262) 749-0842 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This expanded effort will include, but will not be limited to:
Comment boards in local businesses, schools and senior centers. Presentations at two Spanish-language church services. A community meal at the Riviera offered by area restaurants. A children’s coloring contest with a drawing of the Riviera. And a comment board on vacant storefront windows downtown.
Finally, let’s put a couple rumors to rest. The Riviera will not be torn down, as has been suggested by some, and it won’t be a new restaurant owned by our mayor. There is no hidden agenda.
It’s up to the council and the community to create an agenda, and the only way to do that is to get your input.
We want to make it your space, but we need your help.
Halverson is the second district alderman and a former editor and general manager of the Lake Geneva Regional News.