The Alderman’s Christmas Wish Lists for new TIF projects arrived at Monday’s City Council Meeting and the circus began.
When the agenda item came up for “closing TIF#4″ so the $10 million TIF Fund could be returned and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue notified before May 15th to stop the 2015 TIF Tax, the Alderman went into a state of consternation because they had all these new projects they wanted and no time to get them done. What in the world could they do? The implacable Sarah Hill, of course, had the answer,” Let’s not close the TIF.” All the aldermen, except Jeff Wall, yelled “yah” what a brilliant idea!
But with so many new TIF projects on the table what could the city council possibly do? There was no other choice, they threw-up their hands and, for the good of the city, the mayor and the city council voted to keep TIF open. Now the city gets to keep the $10 million currently in TIF and collect another $2 million from the community’s taxpayers next year. Then, if they can hold off closing the TIF until 2017, they will have $14 million. And who wouldn’t like to have an extra $14 million to spend any way one might want? Besides the city has people like the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Darien Schaefer, who’ll stand up and tell the people the TIF Tax doesn’t come from their taxes or from their community schools?
Judge Hank Sibbing spoke eloquently about the city buying Hillmoor and returning it to a golf course that actually used to make money for the city. After all, the city is already in the business of business. It runs the Riviera Pier, the beach, the boat launch, and the Parking System. Why not take back what the city once had: a beautiful golf course and a magnificent entrance into the city? The Judge was supported with heartfelt comments from Sean Payne, who used to work at Hillmoor, and David Schuster of Clear Water Outdoor. Both gentlemen agreed that Hillmoor met all the requirements to be a TIF project. It was in the state of “blight” and it would benefit the entire community if it were returned to a golf course. Judge Sibbing, Sean and David need to get organized and start a Friends Group for Hillmoor like Ken Etten did for the Theater, although with hopefully more success.
Local architect Ken Etten was at the meeting, as usual talking up the community benefits of the old Geneva Theatre.
We all know Ken’s speech by heart now, but all of a sudden it seemed to be finally getting traction at the city council. If the theatre does get approved as a TIF project, and the city helps to buy it, they have to call it the Ken Etten Community Center, if there is any justice at all in this world. But the most vituperative comments came from those who were at the Council Meeting to oppose approving the re-route of Paradise Drive (South Lake Shore Drive at BigFoot) as a TIF Project. Penny Roehr of the Friends of Big Foot Beach State Park was the first to oppose the re-route and said Dan Schuller of the DNR told her that it was Dan Winkler, who came to the DNR first with the re-route concept and not the DNR coming to Lake Geneva first.
Jim Weikel, landscaper extraordinaire, presented a stack of over 300 petitions collected by Care For Lake Geneva group in just over a 5-day period, urging mayor Connors and the City Council to not approve anything relating to the re-route of South Lake Shore Drive.
Chuck Ebeling, past President of the Lake Geneva Conservancy, complimented the Regional news for using his “Viewscape” picture of the sunset from Paradise Drive (South Lake Shore Drive) in three issues of the paper. He then chastised the paper for allowing the puff piece by Alderman Kordus to be run in such a prominent spot in the paper because it was particularly disparaging to people (like him) who love Paradise Drive. Cherl Ryan was particularly articulate and down-to-earth in her opposition to the re-route. She walks the road almost every day with her dogs and she wants to keep the road where it is. The road has been there for 187 years. Why would you want to change it now, she wondered aloud.
Amazingly, the biggest impact at the city council meeting held Monday night was made by the Geneva Shore Report. That’s right, the GSR drone picture of Big Foot Beach State Park was on display and sending a powerful message to the entire meeting. In very dramatic form it showed the State Park with the re-route, the parking complex, the boat launch in the lagoons, and the other roads drawn in. Before that, people could not envision just how devastating the re-route would be until they saw the illustration on the GSR photo. One comment was, “my God, they’re cutting the State Park in two. Why would anyone want to do that to such a beautiful small park?” That question remains on many people’s minds.
Featured Photo courtesy of sierramadretattler