Letters to the Editor
What is it like living in Lake Geneva? While we now have plenty of businesses that carry everyday necessities, we also appreciate and shop with local (non-chain store) merchants who have uncommon wares to satisfy our individual characters. Lake Geneva area residents consist of full-time originals, part-time weekend or summer only people, and visitors we consider part of the essential fabric that makes Lake Geneva a destination community.
We have a past history that, though it finds commonalities in other US cities, is uniquely ours: artifacts from Native American populations along the White River and around the lake’s shores, the Riviera building that once offered the trumpet sounds of Louis Armstrong, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, and trains that brought waves of settlement and visitors. However, it is the residents who are the real backbone of the Lake Geneva Community. We live, work, and shop here in the modern-day Lake Geneva. Living here means needing plenty of spaces to gather — for celebration, for learning, for passive (wandering trails) and active (think YMCA) recreation.
The Friends of Hillmoor is dedicated to supporting and enriching this commons for our community. Visit our website www.FriendsofHillmoor.org to view the ideas that were placed on paper by Shawn Kelly, the local Landscape Architect. Together, this community has saved the Legacy of Hillmoor. Financial sponsors are needed for the property purchase and anchor/recreational development. Contact us with your interest to be part of this Final Action Step!
Mary Jo Fesenmaier, Lake Geneva resident
Tom Hartz, on the other hand, appears to believe that citizens don’t really deserve to receive the same understanding that he has to decide what is best for them and the city. His philosophy, applied when he served on the council previously, would seem to indicate that he believes the city can only do well by continually growing in size and population. Therefore, all decisions made by Tom Hartz, might likely be made through the prism of “bigger is always better,” and that all developments are economically sustainable and offer the only solution to the city’s financial problems. Expansionism to him means that more stores and more houses will increase population that will increase property taxes for the city; profits for local businesses (like Hartz’s Simple restaurant), expand city hall and city departments of police, fire, streets, public works, and utilities.
What Tom Hartz, and other “true believers” in expansionism, fail to tell us is that the long-term costs of development are never paid for by revenue collected from their property taxes. Almost every city, small and large in this country, including the City of Lake Geneva, is forced to borrow to pay for long-term infrastructure (streets, sewer & water) costs and, at the same time, these cities are forced to continue the cycle of expansionism by encouraging more development in order to increase property taxes. 77% of the Lake Geneva citizenry passed a referendum vehemently opposing a rezone and a general development plan for the 718-acre Hummel property. In 2011, Tom Hartz demonstrated his disregard for the public’s opinion in this referendum, and his allegiance to development, when he made the motion to approve the Hummel land change amendment both on the plan commission where it was approved and at city council where he was the swing vote that got it passed. Subsequently, Hartz’s actions were declared illegal because that vote violated state law. In a further demonstration of his addiction to development and expansion, Tom Hartz had an ordinance passed giving the 718-acre Hummel property the city’s sewer and water service.
The eventual infrastructural cost of this gift to Hummel will fall naturally on the citizens of Lake Geneva any day now when they finally develop that huge tract of land.
Dick Malmin, Lake Geneva activist