The little hot dog stand opened up.
The rumors still abound about this little business spot in Southern Wisconsin heaven, located ideally at the very southeastern corner of Library Park in downtown Lake Geneva. The couple who ran the place, both vets and members of the American Legion (the veteran’s organization that has an iron-clad lease, in perpetuity from the city), is not really running the place this year. They are traveling back and forth from their “day jobs,” an hour and a half away, to oversee the running of the stand. It’s been written in other newspapers, and even spoken over the radio, that this couple has sub-leased its lease out for others to run the stand. Well, that is not true, at least it better not be true.
When the “guys with the little hot dogs” were running the place a few years back, and harassing the Kite Lady across the street, it was discovered that the American Legion is strictly enjoined from sub-leasing the space to anyone. The hot dog stand must be run by the Legion, and the Legionnaires themselves, or the lease they hold with the city will become null and void. The Legion leadership violated that rule for the men who ran the place before this current couple. Are they violating it again? We would all like to think that our veterans gathered together in these local “clubs” are better than that, so the assumption is that there is no current sub-lease and no new sub-leases of that current non-existent sub-lease.
Reporter Dawn Grandon reports:
This past Memorial Day weekend I spoke with Robert, a tourist from Highland Park, IL who had grown up in Lake Geneva many years ago. He returned to the area for a Memorial Day service as a tribute to his father. Rob was sitting on a park bench in Library Park pondering, and reflecting when I approached him. It was a comment he made while we were talking that got me to thinking, “tourism kills neighborhoods,” he said.
I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. Although not as eloquently, I will try to explain what he said were his legitimate concerns. Thirty years ago, Lake Geneva was a small, safe, charming, and fun town, and everyone waited for tourist season every year. Quaint little shops and family-owned businesses supported by local residents abounded, and businesses catered to year-round residents in return. No one needed a lot of money to live a decent lifestyle in the community and enjoy all the things the lake had to offer.
Rob observed many changes during his recent walk around town. Walking past the old mill and by the museum he saw graffiti painted on the walls. Traffic has become incredibly congested, and parking is two dollars an hour in some places, and the number of meters has tripled. Rob has come to believe that most people on vacation are selfish these days. He went on to describe other things he didn’t like seeing, like the big box stores and commercial development on the east end of town, while storefronts sit empty in the downtown. The road construction didn’t bother Rob because he sees that as necessary maintenance. Residents were always expected to share their streets with tourists, but now they are sharing their homes too. Landlords are changing their long-term rental homes into B&B’s or Airbnb’s, and no longer renting to permanent tenants. Rob went on to explain that it appears to him that Lake Geneva is having trouble managing its tourism. This gentleman shared several more concerns and I could tell he was disappointed by what he was coming to see as mostly negative changes over the years.
The real question is; are Rob’s concerns real and, if so, what can be done about them? Is it possible to manage growing tourism? What this GSR X-file investigator witnessed was a former resident overwhelmed with nostalgia for Lake Geneva in days gone by, and the changes brought about by its increased number of visitors, and very worried about the vision city leaders need to accommodate future changes, and the burden it also brings to both the city leaders running it and the year-round residents, as well.
Summer Necessities at the Lake