Mercy Stevenson with dogs on lake shore path

Mercy Stevenson enjoys a sunny day on the Geneva Lake Shore Path in Williams Bay accompanied by a friend’s dog, Rumy, left, and her own dog, Noodles. (File photo/Regional News)

Geneva Lake’s Shore Path is one of the region’s best attractions. The unique trail allows visitors and residents alike to enjoy views of our lake and historic mansions.

The public access to the path is unusual, which makes it one of the region’s best attractions.

Visit Lake Geneva President Stephanie Klett was right when she called it the “crown jewel” of the Lake Geneva region. Others in our community wanted to nominate it for the “Great Places in Wisconsin” award.

However, the idea of nominating the shore path was met with opposition. Concerns were raised in Williams Bay and the town of Linn that the award would attract more tourist to the path.

We are disappointed in this viewpoint. The economy in the Lake Geneva region depends on tourism, and, community leaders need to do their parts in embracing this important sector of our economy.

Unfortunately, the shore path issue seems to fit a pattern of not embracing tourism. We saw this again with a proposal from the creators of the popular Ice Castle.

The organization is considering a new location in Dunn Field. The Dunn Field location would allow the tourism magnet to increase the size of its attraction.

However, a concern has been raised that a larger Ice Castle attraction would draw too many tourist to the city.

That’s not the debate we need to have. The businesses in our small downtown rely on tourism to survive and thrive, and the winter months in Lake Geneva are more about surviving rather than thriving. Drawing too many tourists to the city shouldn’t be at the forefront of the debate on whether Ice Castles should move its location to Dunn Field.

There are other concerns regarding the Ice Castles. If we want to debate the location because of concerns about the health of the White River, that’s a good debate.

If officials at the Lake Geneva School District have concerns because of its close proximity to Eastview Elementary School, we, as a community, should listen to those concerns.

But the debate shouldn’t be over whether the attraction will bring too many visitors.

Lake Geneva needs tourists, and, the organizers of Ice Castles have proven that they can draw a crowd to Lake Geneva. Restaurants and other entrepreneurs need tourists as well.

As a community, we can debate the merits of certain ideas and whether proposals are good for the future. We can discuss whether certain tourism proposals will impact our small-town charm, or turn us into the next Wisconsin Dells.

Those debates are healthy. However, we shouldn’t place a ceiling on our success by attempting to curtail the number of visitors.