From the pen of Dick Malmin, Lake Geneva activist and friend of the planet.
The Lake Geneva Regional News ran a story last week, announcing that the Geneva Lake Conservancy requested the City of Lake Geneva to buy the Hillmoor wetlands area (60 acres) from its current owner, so that the conservancy could then “partner” with the city to extend the White River Trail project. The White River project has been on the city’s agenda for a long time. $400,000 of TIF funds was allocated to it, and the city received a grant of $85,000 from the State of Wisconsin to carry out the project. Nothing was ever done, though, because then city administrator Dennis Jordan said he couldn’t locate the owner of the property.
Apparently, we now know why! That same self-serving former administrator, and current President of the Conservancy, is the devious and deceitful friend of Bob Hummel, of the now infamous Hummel scam scandal. It did seem strange to almost everyone that Jordan kept saying it was impossible for him to locate the owner of the Hillmoor Golf Course, while at the same time two area real estate developers didn’t appear to have any difficulty locating the organization, or person, in charge of Hillmoor. Mr. Ford of “Lake Hillmoor” fame, had a contingency contract to purchase Hillmoor if zoning was approved. Zoning was denied, so that deal was cancelled. Then, this summer Laurence Freed of Joseph Freed Associates bought the property for 3.4 million, but because of his fraud conviction and possible 200+ years sentence, he turned the property over to his former employee Paul Fitzgerald and his partner, Mike Riley.
The Geneva Lake Conservancy was formed back in the 1970’s, with the very noble intention of being a steward of the lake and the Geneva Lake Shoreline. Everyone has gotten to watch those noble intentions disappear, however, when the then Director of the Conservancy, Jim Celano, became one of the developers of Mirbeau/Hummel and pressured the Conservancy to recommend the development because there was no actual physical connection to the lake itself. In 2015, the President of the Conservancy, Dennis Jordan, wrote a letter to the Town of Linn saying he and the Conservancy Board of Directors were in favor of rezoning residential lakeshore property to become commercial lakeshore property. Of course the largest donation to the conservancy that year came from the Geneva Inn, proving the leadership of the conservancy is often times nothing more than a lobbying group for development around the lake. “If you want to play, you need to pay” might be the conservancy motto in this modern era. Mike Lazzaroni found that out this summer when he tried to get Finch’s Restaurant approved at the old Poppa Cory’s location. He was opposed for no good reason by the Conservancy both in Linn, and in Walworth County because Lazzaroni didn’t know how the game was played.
Drones are coming to Lake Geneva. Not the GSR drones, of which there are three. The police and fire departments of Lake Geneva have decided to get their own drone. The Lions Club has put up the nine thousand dollars needed to fund the effort. Apparently, the Lions Club is always on the alert for any lions in the area and the departments have agreed to let them know if any are spotted. Why the Lions Club put up the money is anybody’s guess. The Lions Club does charitable work. Maybe the drone will be put up to find poor or homeless people to help. The budget is a little slim. One single FLIR (forward looking infrared) lens costs nine thousand dollars alone, and then you have to know what you are looking for and where to find it. Military specification, if you are going looking for warmth in winter (like maybe a lost child in a storm or somebody in trouble out on the lake at night).
There’s no insurance available for the drone going down, either, only for liability if it damages something or someone. If the drone is out there over the lake and goes in, then the three grand for the drone and nine for the lens is lost and you go to a back up or start over. Or you turn to the GSR and borrow one of theirs, which the GSR has volunteered. The GSR has lost two drones in two years. What kind of expense does the city want to absorb with the coming of its drone? Will it be like the air boat that sat for so long with a broken propeller if it is lost, or it breaks? Aside from the expense of the equipment, the training of qualified pilots and the insurance, there’s the privacy and abuse issues to consider. Only oddball but brilliant Alderperson Chappell voted against the drone. It’s here. Get used to it. Or not.
GSR Drone flight over Lake Geneva