Looking on the Bright Side
The question in the song Auld Lang Syne is “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”
The answer is “no”
They should not be forgotten.
Just as the past should not be forgotten, however, the memory of past events should not be an anchor holding one back, but a memory of the path that was taken and a guide into the future. In reviewing local political events during 2015, there was a common thread that ran through all of the major City Council issues in which citizens became involved. That common thread was citizen opposition to any attempts by Lake Geneva city government to expand its power; using control and influence through regulations; and supporting every growth proposal put in front of it. But even with the success of that citizen opposition, it is important to remember that freedom is dependent on both the support of, and the restraint of, government. Too much, or too little, of either and freedom fades. The following are a few of the more important issues of 2015 in which citizen actions played an important part and in most cases altered or determined the action taken:
1) Demerit Point System for Liquor License (Defeated).
No matter how it was intended, the demerit system for liquor licenses was a flawed system open to potential misuse. Fortunately, because of a strong vocal opposition by liquor license holders, their patrons and residents Demerit Ordinance 15-01 was not approved.
2) Gutting of the required Capital Improvement Referendum for projects over $1,050,000 (Passed).
This was a significant defeat for residents. It increased the dollar value for projects needing a required approved referendum from $1,050,000 to $1,500,000, and it exempted most items including the repair, maintenance, and replacement of city buildings, equipment and infrastructure. However, in most cases when city ordinances get in the way of a city council objective, the city council repeals the ordinance. The fact that the ordinance was modified, and not repealed, was a partial success achieved by the strong opposition by local residents.
3) Comprehensive plan change for Denison School Parking Lot (Failed).
The request to tear down a house for an additional parking lot for Denison teachers clashed with those wishing to preserve the house and the integrity the Maple Park Historic District. Considering the public response to the school board’s parking lot request, the school board members were wise, and are to be thanked for ending the conflict by withdrawing their request.
4) Comprehensive Plan Change to permit a Hillmoor Development (Defeated).
On Dec. 14th a 7-to-0 vote by the City Council denied the requested changes; thus ending the 8-month citizen battle against changing the comprehensive plan that would have opened the door to a planned development of the Hillmoor property. This was a true victory for residents and the future of the city. Without the overwhelming response of local residents, the city council would have approved the change.
5) Commercial Expansion of Geneva Inn’s lake front property into adjacent lake front properties (Failed).
This issue united Lake Geneva residents with Linn Township residents. Both groups have a passion for protecting Geneva Lake, and are opposed to the expanded commercialization of the lakefront. After filling the Zenda Town Hall with vocal opposition, the issue has been temporarily aver with a full time sales center ted, but with the planned and possible future developments on the Pollard and Hummel properties, pressure will continue to be applied for the commercial development of the lake front properties for years to come.
6) The rerouting of Lake Shore Drive through Big Foot Park. (Defeated).
A City’s TIF#4 project and the county’s proposed upgrade for Big Foot State Park united Linn Township with Lake Geneva residents in opposition to the proposal. The proposal involved the rerouting Lake Shore Drive through Big Foot Park’s forest, and moving the Lake Geneva’s boat launch to the Big Foot lagoon. The united effort proved successful and the rerouting of the road and the moving of the boat launch was defeated.
The local media deserves some of the credit for being the informer of the public. However, it is not what the media writes, but what people do with what it reveals that determines the true success of the community. The GSR is one of the local media dedicated to informing the public, and giving an early awareness of upcoming issues that affect all of us, so that the public can have input into those decisions before final decisions are made by the city council. Every issue that is brought to the city council will have people supporting it, and will also have those opposing it. Expressing an opinion on the issue is what freedom in a democracy is about. The decisions about what must be done to advance civilization within the seemingly small confines of the Lake Geneva area are those the residents, property owners and business community need to guide and make. The local newspapers provide assistance by reporting about those things citizens see going on about them before, during and after they go on about them.
Happy New Year
The Geneva Shore Report