Whether small or large, every resident leaves a mark on the city. The mark may appear to be short lived, or it may appear to be a long lasting legacy. Eventually both fade with time. But even in fading, no matter how small your individual mark may appear to be, it alters the future, because the future is a combination of all of our marks. Most people leave a positive mark on the city, but a few are responsible for the destruction or removal of historic buildings, or land marks from the past, and instead leave a scar. City officials and residents need to have an appreciation for the past as well as concern for the future. When making their decisions, city council members need to see the city from a long term perspective that encompasses both a respect for the city’s past and concerns for the future, and balance that with the current needs of today.
A few years back, the destruction of Lake Geneva’s Chicago Northwestern Train Depot, with its millionaire train imager, showed a lack of foresight and it represents the type of destruction of irreplaceable history that needs to be avoided in the future. Only through citizen vigilance, and city council foresight, will the city’s historic remnants (and areas of natural beauty) be preserved for future generations. It takes vigilance and an ongoing effort from generation to generation to prevent more irreplaceable losses, like the train depot. The current natural resources under the greatest threat are the White River, and the old Hillmoor Golf Course property. To developers they represent profit, nothing more and nothing less. They have no long term vested interest. They only have short term profits in mind. The builders, suppliers, and of course, the realtors and bankers all have similar short term profit interests in the development of Hillmoor. Even city council members are enticed by the potential tax revenues likely to be generated from the development of that property.
But, long term, there is no better use of that land than to preserve it for public purposes for the City of Lake Geneva’s residents and visitors. It is the last large tract of open land near the heart of the city. Whether slowly, or rapidly developed, all the vacant land in and around the city is being consumed by both residential and commercial developments. Unless Hillmoor is purchased, and set aside as a park, it will become just another housing development. Look at any decent sized city and you see how valuable and important park and city owned land is to a community. You will hear arguments that the city already has many parks, but those voices won’t tell you that the largest ones; Four Seasons Nature Preserve and Cobb Park, are located on isolated pockets of city land beyond the city limits. Hillmoor Heights Park is located in Linn Township, that little island you curve around at the corner between Williams Street and Interchange North is also one of those parks, as is the lot at one end of Miller Court. Baker Park is about the size of a large room, and it again is one of those parks. The city has no title or documented ownership of Moss Park on the corner of George St., but yet again that is one of those parks. The city does have three decent parks in the downtown area and they are nice, but they are limited in size, and not adequate for large groups such as classic car rallies, boat shows or bike rallies. As a result many such events have had to seek sites in other communities. Every resident leaves a mark on the city.
Let our mark be a Hillmoor Park. A mark that creates an entrance way to the city’s downtown that can be seen and appreciated by both future residents and visitors to the City of Lake Geneva. A gem for the future that can be enjoyed as long as the city exists, and not merely as another commercial or residential development to profit a few, but rather as a gift and legacy in our city’s name