Those pesky but comforting little park benches.
The park bench bandit strikes like a thief in the night. Last Monday morning the Geneva Shore Report had been contacted by several merchants in downtown Lake Geneva. According to store owners and employees, all the park benches situated downtown, located about three feet from the curb and facing the storefronts had all been turned around to face bug splattered car bumpers and moving traffic. The GSR investigators spent the morning checking out why this happened, and where this order came from.
The first stop was at the building and zoning office who suggested the street department was at fault. While talking with the street department, a citizen and business owner approached and suggested a talk with a BID member. What was found from that BID member was that the gentleman hired by the BID to water the flowers took it upon himself to turn all the benches as he watered the flowers. He was not instructed by anyone and felt he was doing a favor. According to Bridget Leech with, the BID, the gentleman had been present at several of the Visit Lake Geneva meetings where it had been suggested or mentioned that possibly a small improvement for downtown would be to turn the benches around. According to another BID member, Mayor Tom Hartz and Bridget Leech were inspired by the same change made to the downtown Burlington area after Burlington hired Roger International, an expert on travel, tourists and downtown improvement expert. The BID of Lake Geneva has also hired Roger (for approximately $20,000) to come to Lake Geneva and give his unbiased opinion, and suggestions for improvement. Merchants and employees will not know when Roger will be walking around town and playing tourist, but are encouraged to come and watch his presentation this fall and see all his recommendations for change. For merchants, local and nonresidents, tourists etc., the Visit Lake Geneva meetings are open to the public and everyone is welcome.
Pacific Southwest, that abandoned storefront on Broad Street with the Aloha shirts still in the window.
The county was all set to accept an offer for the property at 112 Broad Street (Pacific Southwest). This unit has sat abandoned and neglected for three summer seasons, and the continual neglect of the building has caused pipes to burst, resulting in major damage to the interior. The storefront has become an eyesore to anyone who walks past it. The city and county have had some challenges locating the owner. Finally, enough time had passed, and enough unpaid taxes had accumulated so that the county could do something.
The county was just about to accept an offer last week on Thursday, September 13th from Milos Nikolic in the amount of $475,709 for the 112 Broad Street property. The offer could not be accepted, however, because John Peitte, an associate of the owner (who is believed to be) Robert Weston, paid the back taxes, interest, and fees in the amount of $54,709 in the nick of time, thereby saving the building from being sold for taxes. Now what? Will the once very popular Pacific Southwest store and items in it be left to age and decay for another lengthy period of time? Does the owner plan on accepting the outstanding offer the county received? These are questions neighboring businesses and many locals want answers too, but which are not yet forthcoming.