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What is going on in and around Geneva Lake? A whole lot of quiet summer activity, that is what, and a ton of it involves cheating, lying, and prevaricating.

What about boat slip and buoy rentals around the lake? The ones that are leased from municipalities? In Lake Geneva, for example, the list of who leases boat slips and buoys remains some of the most protected information in the city. Why? Because it has been so hard to put together, it is said. In reality, the number of people who are renting these slips and buoys, who are not Lake Geneva residents but are being charged resident rates (significantly less per season), is not protected, but the identities of these people, their addresses, and how much they are paying are, sort of… Oh, it takes an FOIA request to get them. It is not protected by ordinance or anything like that. It’s protected simply because it’s never released.

How about the length of piers all around the lake? The accepted limit has been one hundred feet. That is one hundred feet out into the water.   But now plenty of people are getting piers well beyond one hundred feet because they are claiming that the water is too shallow for them to keep their boats in…so they need to go out to a hundred and thirty, or forty or even two hundred. Lazaroni, the rich guy who lives up on the bluff just south of BigFoot Beach, just got permission to go out from BigFoot Beach two hundred feet. The old pier will be torn down to be replaced by the new one. How about taxes? Has anybody considered the obvious fact that pier owners own the land under the water and the piers on top? They also interdict other people from using those waters in and around their piers. They also deny people entry to their piers because the piers are private property. How about a new tax? A buck a square foot per year for each foot the pier goes out, then ten feet of its width and then twenty feet to each side.

Hundred-foot piers would generate five thousand bucks a year in taxes for every community that allows them. And what about the ridiculous rates the city of Lake Geneva charges to rent out its pier spaces at the Riviera and along the shore near the Lake Geneva City Pier? And how much do these pier installation companies pay to launch and retrieve their workboats? These companies are making a fortune putting in these piers, sinking ‘cribs’ to support them on the bottom, and then pulling up the piers every winter. How about charging lake homeowners for storing their ugly pier equipment along their shorelines? The lake looks like hell every winter unless there is a good five feet of snow to cover this up…and note that most of the people who have these piers stored on the shore are not there to endure the ugliness during the cold months of the year.

Lake Geneva has increased the number of paid parking slots every year for the past ten years and increased the parking rates accordingly. The city makes a pittance at the city pier for boat launches and recovery, not to mention making nothing for the boat towing vehicles and trailer parking. High beach attendance fees and parking fees alienate many people who come to the communities around the lake to kick back and relax. How about going after some real money. The people who own and live in these lake homes part-time (the ones that do the short-term rentals, in particular) charge an arm and a leg for everything. They need to pay their fair share and they are not doing it. That means everyone else is paying for them, although most remain so disconnected and so involved with survival themselves that they do not notice. It may well be the perfect time to re-establish a system of economic justice around the lake. Democracy is by the numbers of those involved not by the numbers of the money involved.

The State of Wisconsin holds the entirety of Geneva Luck in trust, but it is the local communities that must hold that trust up to a standard of performance, and of payment.


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