IS LAKE GENEVA CHASING RAINBOWS?
The Roger Brooks Report is an assessment of the City of Lake Geneva as a destination to attract visitors and future residents. It focused on the benefits of tourism and growth for the city. However, tourists, who are visitors to our town, are like visitors to one’s residence. A limited number are welcome and appreciated, but as the numbers increase the welcome becomes a burden and one spends more time, effort and costs catering to them. In addition to the cost and benefit ratio of catering to tourists, the city, and some of the businesses of the city, have also become dependent on the revenue from tourists.
Being dependent on the tourist revenue the city will build, spend and delegate more of its resources and efforts to continue to attract them. As cities and states fought for manufacturing dollars in the past, they have changed to now focus on attracting tourist dollars. It is important to note that almost everything, other than the crystal-clear lake itself, the view of it from a short distance away, and the sight of many old mansions still around the lake, could be duplicated in or around almost any small town. As the population of the City of Lake Geneva, and the surrounding area grows, its real attraction (the lake and lake-related activity) is shrinking. As each old mansion is torn down, it is usually replaced with a block of smaller homes, and the attractive view of that section of the shoreline is gone. As the visiting population (the tourist influx) increases, the number of boats on the lake increases and the openness of lake surface area decreases. With every new outer store, new subdivision, new shopping center or development built further out from the center of the city, the city’s entrance is further diminished by the loss of the trees and open areas that were once there. These areas are filled in and replaced with yet more commercial or residential development.
All of this diminishes the experience at the heart of the City of Lake Geneva (the city’s lakefront). These outer developed areas all draw activities away from the city’s true unique value (the public’s view and access to a crystal clear lake). Geneva Lake, like a diamond, is very pretty, but it is the setting and peaceful emotions experienced in the surrounding areas that make it beautiful, and it is that beauty which is in danger of being lost, as the surrounding open areas are being filled in and replaced with development. The current leadership of Lake Geneva, politically and organization-wise, has never been more powerful. This leadership, in every area, must closely consider whether a whole-hearted mad dash into more development is really what the residents, workers and property owners really want.