Living Here

Article by former alderperson and Lake Geneva Activist Terry O’Neill.

Nothing is free. Either someone or some entity has already paid the price, or someone or something will have to pay the price for it in the future. We all live in a capitalist system. The difference is, however, if someone has already paid the price, then it is a gift that we have received from them and we should be grateful to them for it; whereas, if it was taken, squandered or borrowed then the burden of paying for it falls on those who follow, who will often despise those who have imposed the burden on them. The problem is that there is a time lag where many that have paid the price never see those who benefit, and those who have squandered things are gone before the ones to follow have to pay the price.

The current money sucking sound of “The Riviera” is a prime example. Until 2005, half of the lake front revenue was kept and set aside for the repair and maintenance of the Riviera and lake front, and the other half went to the city. That set aside money was sufficient ($250,000/yr.) so that the residents would never have to pay for any repair or maintenance of the Riviera, or the lake front. That all changed in 2005 under ex-City Administrator Dennis “Got You by The Short Hairs” Jordan, when the City Council took all the money that had been set aside for the Riviera and lake front repairs, and increased the city’s share to about 85% of all future revenue from the city’s lake front for city use, thus leaving only $75,000 which was insufficient to maintain and repair the Riviera and lake front.

Then, after several years of neglecting the Riviera, the city used over a million dollars collected from residents (under TIF#4) to do patch work repairs on the Riviera. Now it appears that residents will have to cough up an additional million dollars to do more needed repairs to the Riviera. The current approach of the City Administrator “Utah” Blaine Oborn and Public Works Director Tom “Eagle Eye” Earle is to get a total assessment of the Riviera before taking action. This will enable them to better facilitate and plan repairs. The reason this is a good approach can be deduced by reviewing a couple of examples of poor planning in the past that created unnecessary costs.

The Riviera roof needed repair, and the top floor needed to be remodeled, but instead of repairing the roof first the city spent $800,000 from TIF #4 to remodel the upper floor. When the roof then leaked and damaged the remodeled upper floor, the city paid to have the roof and the damage to upper floor repaired. Since that time the roof has again started to leak, and again damaged the first floor. At a cost of $200,000, the area in the front of the Riviera underwent a cosmetic redo, but in the remodeling the drainage problems in front of the Riviera were ignored and made worse by the increased drainage from the expanded bricks area run off. Rather than incorporating a solution to the drainage problem into the remodeling project, the city compounded it with the redesign. That is all in the past, of course.

Today “The Riviera” is still an important landmark for the city and it needs to be repaired and maintained, so residents will probably have to cough up another million dollars to do repairs, but in doing the costly repairs to “The Riviera Money Pit” do not blame the current city council or the current city administrator for the costs, because it was those who codified the city ordinances in 2005 and raided the lake front funds (and have taken most of lake front revenue for city use) who created the problems we face today. Everything effects everything and the ripple effect of decisions travel into the future, and those in the future will either appreciate or despise those decisions made today.

Geneva Lake Water Levels

Water Levels Lake Geneva

Geneva Lake water levels go up and down. After the heavy rains on Monday the level of the lake was a foot higher than normal, as easily seen by looking out toward the piers around the Riviera in downtown Lake Geneva. Usually the tiers are many feet above the water. Not on Monday.

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