Dear Mayor and Aldermen:
The Lake Geneva Regional News Jan. 4 published an article on snow removal that reflects a disappointing and ongoing attitude toward the downtown and its small businesses. https://www.lakegenevanews.net/news/local/lake-geneva-explains-downtown-plowing-strategy/article_bd74608e-cd5a-5aac-a99f-e9e7c2e01173.html. I encourage you all to review and discuss who should be responding to press questions, what the city’s policies are to provide a quaint, small downtown, and on the city’s policy on snow removal. It is an embarrassing and needs to be fixed.
The president of the Lake Geneva Business Improvement District filed a complaint with the Police Department citing both safety and access issues in the downtown area. As a handicapped person, I can attest that it was hard to see where the handicapped spaces were and impossible to reach the sidewalks. It would also have been impossible for a fire truck and or ambulance to get through on Wrigley Drive.
The article quotes Public Works Director, Tom Earle, who explains the policy and rationale for snow removal. He also explains why the sidewalk snow removal policy is not enforced downtown the way is elsewhere in town. “We have 8,000 residents that expect and deserve as much attention as downtown.” If we want a vibrant downtown, following the shutdowns for COVID-19, prevent access by not plowing the four to six blocks downtown, and continuing to treat those businesses as if there were big box stores on Edwards Avenue — like Walmart.
There are a number of solutions to snow removal downtown upon the snowfall and ice. Main Street and Wrigley Drive have to be cleared with parking access. This is not a new issue. Business owners deserve cooperation. Our Public Works Departments does a great job most of the time and has grown. It now has its own buildings, with more staff and equipment than ever. Staff should be referring calls like this to the mayor or city manager.
The citizens of Lake Geneva were very clear this past summer at the Comprehensive Plan listening sessions. The priorities are a clean lake with public access, a quaint and vibrant downtown and no action yet without a more widely accepted plan for the long-term development of Hillmoor.
Please do something to address this issue and other actions and attitudes that result in reduced tourism and empty stores downtown. We don’t want to lose downtown and have only the big stores on Edwards Boulevard.