Letter to the editor from Richard Malmin, Lake Geneva activist and Town of Linn resident. April 15, 2015
Hands up! Was it just one hand?
Some claim they saw two hands, and still others say one guy put up both hands, but needless to say, there were no more than two hands raised in favor of the DNR plan to re-route of South Lake Shore Drive at Monday night’s Linn Town Board Meeting. Those opposed? Hands shot up like rifles in a military parade, way too numerous to count, but it was everyone, except the guy who held up two hands. Those Linn residents, packed tight as sardines into the Linn Town Hall in Zenda, raised their hands in mass to let the board know how they felt.
Dan Schuller, of the DNR, came to the meeting to pitch his best game, coming from a foundation of what he called “pure motives.” What does that phrase mean? No one understood why the DNR’s number one pitchman was claiming his “motives were pure,” as he attempted to sell Linn’s board on the idea of shriveling BigFoot Park, destroying a beloved and cherished road, ruining acres of wetlands, defacing the viewshed of the Park, and making a boating mess of the lagoon. Dan said it was to allow users to have a better “beach experience.” Schuller explained that the approval statistics, with respect to the park, were suffering because of the lack of a decent beach. All visitors using the park apparently fill out cards that rate it according to its various functions and BigFoot had “low comparative ratings” and demands to be upgraded. Mr. Schuller’s motives were pure all right, but pure what?
Despite the park’s so-called less than stellar rating, visitors still continue to come to Big Foot Beach State Park in increasing numbers, e.g. 200,000+ last year, of which three quarters of them were from out of state or out of the area. So obviously, there appears to be no problem attracting visitors and collecting revenue, it’s just those pesky ratings that give BigFoot a sullied reputation. Interestingly enough, Schuller’s argument turned into the old philosophical argument of form vs. function. Schuller said Big Foot was a park and its only purpose was is to serve various park functions; camping, picnicking, hiking, and in the case of Big Foot, swimming. The park’s esthetics, ambiance, and how it looks, were all secondary. Mr. Schuller also mentioned that BigFoot was a jewel. That was his word for the park and beach area. He actually followed that comment by saying that the complex was not a local jewel but belonged to all those who come to visit it. I could not disagree with Mr. Schuller more (incidentally, he’s from Madison). BigFoot is very definitely a local jewel no matter how many people from the outside come to visit, view or stay in it.
Mr. Schuller gave a good example of just how important ratings are when he told those in attendance Monday night that the state just spent $750,000 to replace the shower/toilet bathroom for the RV Campers in the Park because the former john got low ratings. Anyone willing to spend three quarters of a million dollars on five flush toilets, five shower heads and a couple sinks in a concrete block building has to be desperate for ratings to support such poor judgment. When the Schuller Palace Bathroom replacement was first proposed in 2013 it was expected to cost the State of Wisconsin $279,000.00, an amount that was considered way too high. Too pay out an additional $471,000 for that project (which they did!), with the expert assistance of Lake Geneva’s Fowl Director (Dan Winkler), and to brag about just how much the State of Wisconsin is willing to spend to improve its park visitor rating is beyond comprehension.
Now the DNR is asking the Lake Geneva Community to trust them and their “pure motives” to have a new, much longer road built thru the Park’s wetlands and cleared forest. The Lake Geneva city officials are the same people (helping the DNR) who contrived a project to put down a slab of concrete in Flat Iron Park and put up nothing more than a fancy roof costing over $400,000. So far, the nice but naive Brunk people have been snookered out of a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, while the Lake Geneva Beautification Committee is on the hook for another hundred grand. Oh, that leaves a hundred and fifty thousand still owing. Look to see that extra money requested from taxpayer funds at some upcoming city council meeting. What pot of gold is the BigFoot re-route directing itself toward? Under the end of the BigFoot rainbow is the pot of gold called TIF#4. Ten million dollars of already collected tax money just sitting there. If the leaders of Lake Geneva could not pay for turning part of downtown Lake Geneva into a concrete layer cake then they can, since the parking project failed, use those funds and turn BigFoot Park into a concrete pancake.