STREET WITH NO JOY
“Main Street” U.S.A.
The ‘Main Street’ being written about here is the one that proceeds east and west through the beating heart of downtown Lake Geneva. The City of Lake Geneva, ever so quietly, decided to spend some money on reworking the downtown infrastructure. To wit; the main street running through town. One block is being torn up down to the bottom of its bed, supposedly laid back in 1922 and not much improved upon since. The Meeting of the Whole last Monday night allowed citizens to come forward to question the judgment of both a total shut down and the timing of the construction.
From March 7 through some day in late May, Main Street will be closed to all automobiles from Broad Street, and then for three blocks west to Warren. Highway 50, the other name for the road that’s called Main, will be rerouted one block to the north, running from Center Street to Maxwell. Geneva Street will be taking the heavy traffic for a distance of five blocks. The residents will simply have to absorb the noise, pollution, and misery of having cars and trucks all over their street at all times of the day and night. Their endurance and pain will be duly noted. The businesses affected by this complete road closure will be devastated. There is no question about that. Their misery and pain will also be duly noted, and that’s it. Those businesses will lose a third of their best traffic, sales and only God knows what else in this crummy bargain.
It has been bad news for the Boatyard Bagel Company and Peet’s to remain unrented for over a year on Main Street, but that turns out to be good news for any business that might have gone in there thinking the summer of 2018 would start out with a bang. 2018 is not going to be a small business boon year unless something astoundingly great happens from June through September. What went wrong here that is going to cause the closure of more of Lake Geneva’s businesses?
Notice what went wrong? There was no notice. Little orange sheets were sent to the businesses to be affected. That was it. This whole project was so quietly passed by the Public Works Commission that the GSR had little or no idea it was planned, bid out and funded. The second thing that went wrong was in the expectation of performance on the part of the specifications for the project. There was no need to close Main Street completely. This job could have been done by bifurcating Main Street right down the middle and at least having a lane of traffic moving both ways. The parking slots could have been closed and the work could have been confined to smaller areas. That would have extended the project, without a doubt, but that might have saved some of the businesses that are going to pay the terminal price for this infrastructure repair fiasco (from their standpoint).
There is only one “stop the presses” kind of positive note to this story. The final decision on what will be closed and when will not be made until Thursday morning at eight a.m. That’s right, they scheduled a meeting to be held when absolutely everyone could attend! Maybe parts of Main Street will remain open. Maybe the preferred detour will actually use Highway 12 so reasonable drivers and potential visitors could start down that highway and then, after reasonable contemplation, go somewhere else.