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Brick and Mortar, that fabulous local (well, sometimes a bit on the expensive side) furniture and home decoration retailer has not quit.  They have this building, located at the corner of Geneva and Cook Street, that happens to be designated as part of the Maple Park Historic District, and that designation has become a thorn in the side of not only The Brick but the City of Lake Geneva, the plan commission and the city council.  Maybe the city’s fabulous top diplomat (Mayor Tom Hartz) could be brought in to bring everyone together on the problem.

The problem is that The Brick wants to get rid of the old house and build something more suitable for selling retail items of rather significant size, content, and value.  They cannot do anything to the house without permission from the commission and the council.  The commission and council do not want to allow the destruction of a historical home, that’s inside the district (the precedent alone would be potentially devastating), nor do they want to allow the home to be moved and a more modern structure built in its place.

Monday night the commission met and went at it again for several hours.  The guy who wants the house moved to his lot (it’s a lot better place than the dinky old one he’s currently got) made a nearly endless presentation to the commission.  Great presentation, but if the commission did approve then who’s going to pay the fifty-grand, or so, to move the house, raze the old house it is being moved to replace, and then hook everything up to work?  The guy who wants the house has a ‘go fund me’ site for that purpose.  Well, good luck on that one.  Who’s going to put money in to preserve a historical house being moved out of a historical area, and to the benefit of the guy who’s getting it for himself?  It could be argued that The Brick might benefit too, especially if the commission was to approve the construction of a new more modern commercial establishment to replace the hole where the old house was (if it was moved).

The commission decided to ‘kick the can’ down the road, once again. There have been many meetings, presentations, drawings submitted, changed and then resubmitted.  The commission has been stuck, caught between a rock (the historical designation and the weight of that) and a hard place (the fact that The Brick, and its owners, are such a fabulous business and people).  What are they supposed to do?  The city council has been hoping that this mess would stay out of its chambers until the New Year, where it could end up as part of a New Year’s Resolution that might be worded something like: “there will be a tornado and the house will be sucked up to this place called Oz.”  What will happen as this New Year does approach, and then occurs?

There is one thing for certain, and it’s being continuously demonstrated: the people who own The Brick are not going to quit and go away, or be satisfied with trying to run their business out of a run-down ancient structure built and occupied (for the most part) as a really grand old residential home.  This Christmas Brick, unwrapped and rough-edged, sits under the Lake Geneva Christmas Tree of life.  It doesn’t have to be opened, but it cannot be avoided for too long.  One day the tree must come down, the decorations put away, the presents opened and gone…
Leaving only the Christmas Brick to be contended with.

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